Ministers, ladies and gentlemen, good morning. It’s a pleasure to be back here in the North inner city for this major announcement.
In February, earlier this year, we launched Project Ireland 2040, our ambitious plan for the future of our country.
Today we announce the first round of funding under the €2 billion Urban Regeneration and Development Fund.
The second of four funds which are game-changers in the way we do things.
Last Friday I was in Sligo to announce the first round of funding under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, and we will be making similar announcements under the Climate Action, and Disruptive Technologies Innovation Funds in the near future.
The best way of preparing for the future is by investing in it now.
Project Ireland 2040
Over the next twenty years, the population of Ireland is expected to grow by 1 million people. We want to ensure that this growth is balanced, that all parts of the country share in the nation’s prosperity, and that we do it in a sustainable and climate friendly way.
Project Ireland 2040 is our way to achieve that. It is a plan like no other. Because it represents a radically different approach to planning for our future.
Project Ireland 2040 consists of a national spatial plan that is backed up with real money. The money follows the plan.
It provides for massive increases in investment in our public infrastructure – housing, transport, broadband, education and healthcare.
An investment of €116 billion over ten years to remove bottlenecks, modernize our public services, reduce congestion, and ensure that economic development is brought to all parts of our country, and ensure that we have the capacity for future growth.
I know people hearing politicians talking about 10 year plans and 2040 can be sceptical. It sounds like the ‘long finger’ talking. But that’s not the case. Project Ireland 2040 is already being implemented.
Next year alone there will be a 25% increase in infrastructure spending and you can already see the results all over the country:
• New schools;
• New primary care centres;
• New Housing;
• Road improvements, sports clubs etc.
So, what are our objectives? They are a shared set of goals which will deliver benefits to communities across the country:
• compact growth in our villages, towns and cities. No more sprawl;
• better accessibility to all parts of the country;
• a strong economy;
• a transition to sustainable energy;
• strong rural communities – 200,000 more people living in rural Ireland by 2040;
• access to quality childcare, education and health services; and
• enhanced amenities and heritage.
In May, with my Ministerial colleagues, I launched four game-changing funds - a total investment of €4 billion. Together they represent a new and innovative approach to investment and capital spending in Ireland.
The €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund will enable towns, villages and rural areas to grow sustainably. It’s all about making Rural Ireland a more attractive place to stay, move to, open or operate a business.
The €500 million Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund will drive collaboration between the research, education and enterprise sectors, and will help create the jobs and wealth of the future.
The €500 million Climate Action Fund will focus on innovative projects with a strong focus on emission reduction interventions in the transport sector, using technological advancements to combat climate change.
The €2 billion Urban Regeneration and Development Fund – the reason we are here today - aims to achieve sustainable growth in Ireland’s cities and large urban centres, incentivising collaborative approaches to development by public and private sectors. Unleashing the potential of brownfield sites for city living rather than more suburban sprawl. Growing up not out.
One of the more revolutionary aspects of these Funds is that they are competitive and open to a wide variety of partners. If you have an idea to improve your area, develop new technologies, encourage climate action, you have the opportunity to make a real difference.
These are targeted, strategic investments in projects that will help to build a better Ireland.
Today we are announcing the first round of funding under the Urban Fund with more announcements to come.
I have been struck by the dynamism of the ideas that were submitted.
The projects being announced today truly have the potential to offer real change to our urban areas. These are impressive projects that will encourage real impact and growth in our cities and towns.
They will make our towns and cities more livable for residents, and aid the economic development of our urban centres across the country.
They will, through projects like the ones announced here in the north inner city of Dublin, regenerate our urban centres and help achieve our ambition of smart compact growth rather than continued sprawl.
Of almost 90 applications that have been successful, it’s noteworthy that 80% of the projects and 85% of the budget are outside the Dublin Metropolitan Area. We have a diverse range of projects across all our cities as well as urban centres like Clonmel, Roscommon town, and Kilkenny city.
Project Ireland 2040 has balanced regional development at its core, and will enable Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Galway to grow at twice the rate of Dublin over the next twenty year. This investment programme, we announce today and all that will come through future rounds will help us realise the ambition.
Another way is through putting in place strong leadership for our cities. So next summer will hold plebiscites on directly-elected mayors for Cork, Galway, Waterford and Limerick – something which will help provide a focal point and a driver for the achievement of those ambitious growth targets.
Last July I launched Trinity College's plan for an Innovation District in Dublin.
This will build on the concentration of high tech multinationals in the Grand Canal Quay area to position us as the Tech Capital of Europe - connecting leading multinationals, start-ups and researchers. The project is supported by a Steering Group led by my Department and I'm delighted that Trinity has been awarded a grant of €1.5 million for 2019, which will help bring forward this ambitious plan for Dublin.
The vast majority of the projects announced today will hit the ground running. We also know that there are many good ideas out there that were not quite ready for funding now – they need more time for plans to be developed, for matching funding to be secured and so on. So there will be further rounds in the years ahead, and help given to applicants so that the best ideas can be brought forward and we can learn from what works well and what does not.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who applied to this, and to all four Funds.
Project Ireland 2040 is our plan.
Today shows how we will work together to achieve it.
It’s just a taste of what’s to come.
So thank you.