Published on Tuesday5thOctober2021

National Development Plan commits record €3.5bn budget for collaborative cross-border investment

Shared Island Fund doubled to €1bn to 2030

Programme of investment presents significant business opportunities North and South Govt will work with NI Executive and UK Govt to create a more connected, sustainable and prosperous island

Government has announced significant additional funding and an increased level of ambition for collaborative cross-border investment in the Shared Island dimension of the reviewed National Development Plan. Under the Plan, total all-island investment through the extended Shared Island Fund, the Project Ireland 2040 funds, the Government’s annual funding for North/South cooperation and the PEACE PLUS programme, delivered with the EU, UK and NI Executive, is more than €3.5billion. The Government’s commitment of €500m to the Shared Island Fund, will be at least doubled out to 2030. As part of the strategic investment priorities for a Shared Island, the Government will work to develop and deliver joint and coordinated investments with the Northern Ireland Executive, the UK Government, European Union and local authority partners to build a more connected, sustainable and prosperous island, for all communities and traditions.

An Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD said, “Over the next 20 years, the population on this island will grow by over 1 million, making it home to around 8 million people.  The reviewed National Development Plan sets out investment priorities to meet the future needs and potential of our shared island, maximising the opportunities of an increased population, skilled workforce and larger consumer market for the island as a whole.

“Our ambition is to create a more connected, sustainable and prosperous island for all. We will do that through a wide-ranging, sustained programme of investment, delivered through all-island partnerships. By enhancing cooperation and investment on a North/ South basis, we can better address common economic, environmental and infrastructure needs, take up advantages of scale, release the full potential of border regions and enhance connections between people across the island.” Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney TD added, “I particularly welcome the strong commitment to North/South partnerships in the National Development Plan. This enhanced level of ambition - backed up with a commitment of more than €3.5 billion over 10 years for cross-border public investments - will benefit all communities and traditions and represents a real step change in terms of practical cooperation across the island”. The National Development Plan also presents significant business and employment opportunities, North and South, given the skills and labour demands generated by the scale of infrastructure, green and digital investment by Government between now and 2030. Building on the commitments in the ‘New Decade New Approach’ and the Programme for Government, Shared Island investment priorities in the National Development Plan will see Government delivering on project commitments and developing a new generation of cross-border public investments and initiatives. These investment priorities include:

  • The creation of an island-wide greenway network, linking the Atlantic coast with the Eastern seaboard;
  • Enhanced all-island rail connectivity including the introduction of an hourly rail service on the Dublin-Belfast line;
  • Coordinated investment to roll-out Electric Vehicle charging networks across the island;
  • Enhancing support for enterprise development on an all-island basis;
  • Funding for all-island climate actions;
  • Delivery of the €40m North/South Research Programme and creation of new all-island research centres;
  • Further develop third-level education infrastructure in the North West region;
  • Progressing new cross-border built and natural heritage initiatives, including a focus on the culture and heritage of minority communities in the border counties;

Available funding streams for these priorities include the Shared Island Fund; the Project Ireland 2040 funds for rural development, urban regeneration, climate action and innovation; and the PEACE PLUS programme 2021-27, delivered with the Northern Ireland Executive, UK Government and European Union. -Ends-

Note to Editor: The three pillars to the Shared Island investment agenda in the National Development Plan are connectivity, sustainability and prosperity.  The Government will deliver these priorities through all-island partnerships on a North/South and East/West basis.

A more connected island Investing to enhance connectivity on the island is a crucial enabler of balanced regional development, sustainable economic growth, recreation and well-being, as well as beneficial community interactions across the island of Ireland.  Priorities include:

  • Creating an island-wide greenway network, linking the Atlantic coast with the Eastern seaboard through greenway projects across the border region;
  • Enhanced rail connectivity taking account of the all-island strategic rail review to be completed in 2022. An early priority is the introduction of an hourly rail service on the Dublin-Belfast line;
  • Developing new cross-border built and natural heritage initiatives;
  • Funding cross-border projects in arts and culture through the Creative Ireland initiative.
  • Completion of all Phases of the Ulster Canal restoration project;
  • Delivery of the Narrow Water Bridge project;

A more sustainable island The island is a single ecological entity, integrated in crucial environmental, economic and social domains. Well-coordinated North/South approaches are imperative for effective policy and public investment actions on the island, in addressing the challenges of climate breakdown and the biodiversity crisis, protecting the common environmental resources of the island and making the rapid transition to a net zero-carbon future. Priorities include:

  • Coordinated investment to roll-out Electric Vehicle charging networks across the island;
  • Climate action funding to take up opportunities for effective cross-border climate action partnerships and interventions, including exploring cross-border approaches on renewable energy;
  • Investment to conserve cross-border region peatlands to support biodiversity, provide valuable ecosystem services and act as carbon sinks;
  • Supporting more all-island biodiversity initiatives;
  • Investing for an all-island circular economy;
  • Cooperation on preservation of coastal regions and marine resources;
  • North/South investment on river basin management and water infrastructure.


A more prosperous island By investing and working together on the island, we can have greater impact on the key drivers of prosperity for all regions, and better harness the potential of border areas as the geographic core of a growing, high-value all-island economy.  Through coordinated investment and cooperation in areas such as research and innovation, higher and further education, infrastructure, enterprise, and tourism, Government will work to support a more regionally-balanced and prosperous island for all.  Priorities include:

  • Delivering the new €40m North/South research programme;
  • Creating new all-island research centres;
  • Developing the third-level infrastructure of the North West region in integrated ways, including with Ulster University Magee Campus in Derry and Letterkenny Institute of Technology;
  • Developing cross-border apprenticeship initiatives;
  • Building on the success of the Border and Regional Enterprise Development Funds and the Regional Enterprise Plans to promote and facilitate enterprise development on a cross-border basis;
  • Supporting cross-border approaches to attract investment, including through the North West City Region and the Dublin Belfast Economic Corridor initiatives;
  • Working with the Northern Ireland Executive on large scale North-South tourism initiatives.

This ambitious and innovative programme for public investment will be delivered through all-island partnerships, in cooperation with the Northern Ireland Executive, including through the North South Ministerial Council; with the UK Government; European Union, and local authority partners. More information on the Shared Island initiative is available at