Engineers Ireland has called for the appointment of a Minister for Infrastructure with specific responsibility for planning and delivering strategic national infrastructure projects in the next government. 

The organisation, which represents 23,000 engineers, said the position is necessary to drive project planning and delivery. 

The ministry would be a so-called "super-junior" level one, the body suggested.

It has also proposed the creation of a National Infrastructure Unit in the Department of the Taoiseach, to take ownership of project planning and delivery over a 20 to 30-year horizon. 

Responsibility for parts of key government departments and agencies, like the Departments of Finance, Environment, Education, Energy, Communications and Transport would be delegated into the unit, it said.

The group also suggested that an independent panel should be appointed, similar to the Infrastructure Projects Authority in the UK and comprised of representatives of industry, business and academia, to assess national infrastructure needs.

Engineers Ireland also called for an increase in spending on infrastructure from 2% to 4% as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product over the next five years and the elimination of bottlenecks, like slow approval and land acquisition processes that delay critical projects.

EI made the call as it hosted an infrastructure forum, attended by a leading UK civil engineer and Institution of Civil Engineers President, John Armitt.