The Irish government looks set to sell off many state assets to relieve the budget crisis and pay down the $115 billion national debt.

Airports, railroads, ports, the national television service, RTE and the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) are all among the assets that may well be on the block.

The Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan announced on Thursday  that he has appointed economist Colm McCarthy, who led the body that advised on  €5 billion in public service cuts last year, to chair  a new group called the Review Group on State Assets companies.

The  Department of Finance issued a partial list of government owned bodies that may be sold off such as ESB, Bord Gáis, RTÉ, Iarnród Éireann, Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports, (all owned by Dublin Airport Authority) 10 port companies and Bord na Móna the peat turf board..

Lenihan stated its initial focus would be commercial State companies but that the new board  will also look at other assets, such as the radio spectrum, used to carry mobile phone and TV signals, and mining and exploration licenses.

The group will issue its report at the end of the year.  About 10,000 people are employed in the various state bodies that are on the list.