The Government of Ireland has halted spending on almost 80 national road building schemes, citing current economical difficulties.

The government has instructed the National Roads Authority to stop spending on all capital projects that are not already under way, unless each new project is individually sanctioned by the Department of Finance.

The curbs will affect 78 major construction projects in the NRA Roads Programme, 55 of them national primary roads and 23 national secondary roads.

The curb will also extend to road maintenance where contracts for items such as road resurfacing will need to be pre-approved by the Department of Finance.

The department has confirmed that all new capital projects now need to be pre-approved. A spokesman acknowledged that the reason for this was “in light of changing economic circumstances”.

The only exception to the Government’s edict is to be the 6km Castleisland bypass in Co Kerry, sanctioned by the Department of Finance on 19 March.

By Daniel Garrun.