The State of Ireland

The State of Ireland report is Engineers Ireland’s annual independent assessment of Ireland’s infrastructure and technology. Each year, an advisory group of engineers and other professionals develop recommendations for public policy.

The State of Ireland
2020 report
Ireland’s recovery will be green and digital, driven by investments in infrastructure, technology and education.

The State of Ireland 2020 recommendations

Infrastructure for economic stimulus

1. To stimulate the economy and deliver much-needed infrastructure, increase capital spending by €25 billion over the lifetime of the National Development Plan. This investment should be targeted at decarbonisation and aligned to the National Planning Framework.

2. Enact the following pieces of legislation to improve planning and project delivery:

  • Marine Planning and Development Management Bill 2020 to provide a planning regime for offshore renewable energy;
  • Water Environment (Abstractions) Bill 2018 to enable the Eastern and Midlands Region Water Supply Project;
  • Housing, Planning and Development Bill 2019 to speed up planning.

3. Ensure that critical State and semi-State bodies are sufficiently resourced to deliver the significant countrywide increase in infrastructure that is required over the next decade.

4. Increase the national procurement threshold for open tendering for works and works related services from €50,000 to €250,000.

A Green New Deal for Ireland

  • Implement the European Green Deal by accelerating greenhouse gas emissions reductions, enacting the Climate Action (Amendment) Bill 2019 for net-zero emissions by 2050 and seeking funds through the European Green Deal Investment Plan.
  • Put communities at the heart of a sustainable recovery by involving local citizens as early as possible in the development of new infrastructure and ensuring local communities benefit directly from it.
  • Ensure the delivery of a low-carbon, reliable and resource-efficient energy system at the least possible cost for society in Ireland through energy system integration, including direct electrification of end-use sectors, achieving the 70% renewable electricity by 2030 target, a hydrogen strategy for Ireland, and collaboration and public engagement.
  • Ireland’s electric grid will need new system services, capacity and interconnectors to be developed as soon as possible to ensure Ireland continues as a world leader in renewable electricity integration, which will also support electrified heat and transport.
  • Urgently identify a seaport to support offshore wind development. The port will need sufficient port depth, quay length and storage space.
  • Actively manage public land, through the mechanism of the Land Development Agency and/or other means. Ensure there is a strong legislative framework and sufficient capacity to coordinate the development of State lands and to assemble strategic land banks from a mixture of public and private lands. 
  • Develop and implement a radical national retrofit strategy, providing absolute clarity and a roadmap for retrofitting over the next 20 years. As well as improving the building fabric, this should include retrofitting the heating supply by replacing oil boilers with heat pumps in rural areas and gas boilers with district heating in urban areas. 
  • Re-engineer our towns and cities for walking, cycling and public transport through ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ measures and by progressing major projects such as BusConnects, Metrolink, light rail systems and the DART Interconnector.
  • Provide multi-annual funding for the delivery of Irish Water’s capital investment plan and for the delivery of the Flood Risk Management Plans. 

A Digital Ireland

  • Adopt a National Programme for Digital Transformation setting out a vision for an equitable, secure, and sustainable transition to a digital society.
  • Accelerate the rollout of the National Broadband Plan and 5G mobile networks.
  • Adopt an all-island approach to physical, digital and social connectivity and support the development of connected digital enterprise hubs.
  • Legislate for a post-Brexit Common Data Space for the island of Ireland and prioritise its implementation so as to underpin the emergence of an all-Ireland data economy.
  • Review the security of the State’s critical infrastructures and digital services and reinforce their protection from cyberattacks.
  • Accelerate public sector modernisation focusing on a digital-first culture with collaborative working practices, transparent processes and algorithms, and the sharing and reuse of data.

Education for a green and digital future

  • Introduce a sustainable funding model for higher education, including core funding, programmatic funding, infrastructure investment and industry-academic collaboration.
  • Increase the number and range of professional engineering apprenticeships through industry-led consortia and expand Skillnets to fill skills gaps for the sustainable recovery.
  • Invest in a culture of lifelong learning, targeting digital skills (such as data analytics, AI and cybersecurity) and ‘human’ skills (such as communications, management and critical thinking).
  • Launch a nationwide digital literacy programme to combat disinformation, to foster the uptake of digital technologies, to raise awareness of the abuse of personal data and to counteract the socio-economic and geographical digital divides which have been exacerbated by COVID-19.
The State of Ireland
2019 report
The capacity of Ireland’s housing system to meet current and future needs is poor, while the physical condition and connectivity of the existing housing stock requires attention.
Have your say
To have your say on Engineers Ireland policy, contact Richard Manton, Policy Officer.