The single biggest investment programme in the history of the state was unveiled this morning by the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste. The National Development Plan, which is to be implemented over a six year period, beginning next year, will see some £40bn being spent on a wide varied of projects including public transport, roads, social housing and rural development.

Speaking at the launch of the plan, the Taoiseach said that it would have a radical transforming impact on the lives of Irish people, while the Tánaiste called it the most ambitious project since the foundation of the state. Of the £40bn, some £13.5bn will be invested in the Border, Midland and Western part of the country while the Southern and Eastern parts will get the remaining £27bn pounds. The Government says that the aim of the ambitious seven-year plan is to be keep the economy at the top of the world league for competitiveness. In addition to the £40bn, some £6.4bn will be invested by the private sector during the 6 years of the plan.

£15bn of the total will go on what termed social inclusion, with £6bn alone to be investment in social and affordable housing. This is the single biggest investment in public housing even undertaken in the state and should improve considerably the housing shortage.

Another key area of the plan is investment in infrastructure. Public transport is to receive £2.2bn pounds, with much of this going on initiatives to improve access in the Dublin area. 46 additional DART cars are to be purchased and 4 new rail stations are to be opened, including one at the Intel Plant that employs thousands in Leixlip. 275 extra buses and 3,700 park and ride spaces will also be provided.

£500m is being provided for LUAS and £430m for light rail network, while £200m is being spent on traffic management measures. In the rest of the country, £650m is being allocated to the rest of the country to finance rail and bus networks.

Five primary routes in the country are earmarked to be fully upgraded to motorways or improved dual carriageways. The five are Dublin to Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Galway and the Northern Border. Excluded from this list is the Northwest, which is bound to cause resentment in the region.

The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) welcomed the Government announcements on roads. Other areas to receive new funds are rural development, childcare and the improvement of our water and waste management facilities. The Plan provides an allocation of over £3.7bn exclusively for agriculture, food and rural development.

More than £400m will be allocated for tourism marketing, training and product. Tourism investment over the next 7 years will exceed £350m. Additional funding for tourism product development in the marine leisure area, in angling and in rural tourism, will bring this investment to well over £400m. £85m will be allocated for regional recreation and sports measures, as well as £420m to alleviate disadvantage through area-based partnerships, drug task forces and young peoples facilities and services fund.