The Taoiseach has described the new National Development Plan as "unprecedented in scale" and one that will shape Ireland's response to the housing crisis and the challenge of climate change.

The new plan, described by ministers today as "gigantic", promises €165 billion in funding for a range of projects over a 10-year-period.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: "This is an important day in what has been an exhaustive and comprehensive review.

"The plan gives clarity about Government investment over the next decade. We will respond to the housing crisis, we will react to the climate emergency."

Speaking at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, where the plan was formally launched this afternoon, Mr Martin promised that the NDP would "drive the next stage of our post-pandemic recovery".

He said that Ireland's revised development plan was the "largest and most environmentally conscious development plan in the history of the State".

"We will enable the transformation of our health service, delivering the investment framework necessary for the implementation of Sláintecare," he said.

Mr Martin said the plan will be a pathway to improve the lives of citizens, the economy and environment, and will provide the resources to deliver the Housing For All plan, which promises 300,000 new homes by the end of 2030.

He also announced fresh funding to support cross-border projects up to 2030, and said the plan would deliver "regionally balanced growth" to the country.

Mr Martin said the NDP must be nimble and flexible, and there must be room to move with delivery.

Putting a particular costing on the project right now is "not good value for the taxpayer and doesn't make sense", he said.

"It's sensible, the way we're doing it."

He said he is confident that many of the projects in the plan can be delivered, and he denied that the plan was a 'wish list', adding that there was very substantial funding underpinning it.

Opposition parties described the plan as "political theatre" and said it amounted to a work of fiction.

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Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said significant progress had already been made on various projects, even against the backdrop of a pandemic.

"This isn't simply an updating of the last NDP. Rather, it's a strengthening of the plan," he said.

"We will borrow to invest in public infrastructure, in schools and healthcare and housing. In climate action, trains, buses and roads. And I'm convinced that this is the right approach."

He also said the plan would deliver new opportunities to rural Ireland, and that the Covid-19 pandemic has "illustrated the real potential that rural Ireland has for the 21st century".

He said he and Minister Heather Humphreys were working to ensure flexible working was the legacy of the pandemic.

The Minister for Transport, Climate, Environment and Communications said that over the next ten years, €11.6bn will be set aside for new public transport infrastructure and €3.8 billion on the repair, maintenance and fleet purchase of buses to "make that leap in our public transport happen".

Eamon Ryan also said that €8bn will be spent on maintaining existing roads, while €5.8bn will be spent on new roads.

The Government is committing to Ireland being at the leading edge of creating a low carbon, renewable efficient economy, he said, adding that it will be backed up by the Climate Action Carbon Budget and the Climate Action Plan.

He said the exact cost of these projects will become clear when they go into the tendering process.

Speaking ahead of this morning's Cabinet meeting, Minister Ryan had warned that it is not guaranteed that every road project in the NDP will go ahead, and they will have to be assessed on their merits.

He said there would be a focus on by-pass routes and all options would be looked it.

The Minister for Public Expenditure described the scale of investment as gigantic, adding that the ambitions "are of a scale the likes of which we have never seen before".

Michael McGrath said the annual average job total was 81,000 direct and indirect construction jobs to implement the NDP.

Crucial to delivery will be the supply of skilled labour, he said, which will be assisted by the action plan for apprenticeships.

He said improving governance is an important part of the NDP, and five external members will be added to the Project Ireland delivery board to compliment the expertise of the civil servants.

Earlier, Minister McGrath had said the Government will "honour" its commitment to a two-to-one spending ratio on public transport to roads as part of the NDP.

He said public transport needs "transformative change", which he said is provided for in the revised plan.

Sinn Féin's Transport Spokesperson Darren O'Rourke said the plan amounted to political theatre. He criticised the removal of completion dates for key transport projects.

Labour's Finance and Public Expenditure Spokesperson Ged Nash said the lack of clear dates and costs was not, in his view, done for competitiveness reasons, but rather because the maths had not been done.

Former climate minister and Independent TD Denis Naughten said he understood why Government was vague on such detail, but he queried how much of the plan, such as the retrofitting of homes could be delivered while there is a skilled labour shortage.

Additional reporting by PA