Engineers Ireland has welcomed the Programme for Government, Our Shared Future. The representative body for engineers, whose membership represents the full spectrum of the engineering profession in Ireland, backed the programme’s planned phase of rebuilding in the aftermath of the COVID-19 emergency.

“Rebuilding the economy,” said its director general, Caroline Spillane, “will require substantial investment in infrastructure and education to act as an economic stimulus, create jobs and overcome ongoing challenges in housing, climate, digitalisation and the potential impact from Brexit."

Focus on job creation, climate action, housing and public transport

“Therefore, as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, we welcome the focus on job creation, climate action, housing and public transport – which will provide for vital social, environmental and economic infrastructure," added Spillane. 

"These investments by the next government will enhance our country’s wellbeing, inclusion and competitiveness through providing vital services and actions for our citizens and natural environment.

“Additionally, new technologies and ways of working are rapidly changing our society and economy. Engineers Ireland will work with government to ensure that engineers can lead in the innovative use of new technologies and take advantage of the digital transformation.”

Marguerite Sayers, president of Engineers Ireland, said: “This draft Programme for Government represents a major opportunity to make the transition towards a cleaner and more sustainable future.

'Investment decisions must be evidenced based'

"At this challenging time, investment decisions must be evidenced based and Engineers Ireland is committed to channelling the expertise of our professional engineering membership in finding practical and cost-effective solutions to the significant societal challenges we face. 

"Over the coming months, we look forward to working with the new government to create and deliver engineering solutions as part of the National Economic Plan which will not only benefit society today, but also future generations.”

Engineers Ireland supports many measures in the published programme and the organisation has advocated for these measures in recent times.

Measures include:

  • A Recovery Fund, including infrastructure development (prioritising housing, retrofitting and transport) and reskilling and retraining, and a National Economic Plan
  • Ensuring that policy and planning across government in relation to the future provision of services and infrastructure will be fully aligned with the National Planning Framework to ensure balanced and sustainable development in Ireland over the next 20 years
  • Acceleration of Ireland’s carbon emissions reduction, five-year carbon budgets and a new Climate Action Bill to legislate for achieving net zero emissions by 2050
  • A plan on achieving at least 70% renewable electricity by 2030, including the necessary skills base, supply chains, legislation and infrastructure
  • Major investment in the re-engineering of our towns and cities for public transport, cyclists and pedestrians and in a sustainable rural mobility plan
  • Progressing public transport projects such as Metrolink, Luas and other light rail expansion, DART Expansion and interconnector and BusConnects projects in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick
  • An EV strategy to ensure charging infrastructure stays ahead of demand, a public procurement framework for EVs and other policy approaches to incentivise use of EVs
  • Increasing the social housing stock by over 50,000 over the next five-years
  • Task the Land Development Agency with strategic land assembly (including CPO powers) and providing social and affordable housing in sustainable communities on State-owned land
  • Development of a Town Centres First policy to regenerate villages and towns using the National Planning Framework as a template
  • Retrofitting over 500,000 homes by 2030 in a National Aggregated Model of Retrofitting as part of the EU Renovation Wave
  • Funding Irish Water’s capital investment plan for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure on a multi-annual basis and delivering the €8.5 billion funding package committed to in Project Ireland 2040
  • Accelerating the rollout of the National Broadband Plan and facilitating remote working and innovation opportunities
  • Developing a long-term sustainable funding model for Higher Level education in collaboration with the sector and supporting research and researchers
  • A National Digital Strategy, including further developing Ireland’s leadership in new digital technologies including cloud computing, data analytics, blockchain, internet of things and artificial intelligence
  • Increasing lifelong learning rates from 9% currently to 18% by 2025 and increasing the total number of new apprentice registrations to at least 10,000 per annum
  • Improving awareness of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) career paths beyond purely technical careers and examine the scalability of existing pilot projects to encourage diversity in STEM subjects in line with the STEM Education Policy 2017-2026.