The government is being urged to put forward a significant investment package for the West and North West Region, as the Region continues to regress compared to the rest of the State.
New data from the CSO highlighted by the Northern & Western Regional Assembly (NWRA) shows that regional inequalities continue to rise in Ireland. Donegal has the lowest disposable income per person in the country.
This follows the downgrading by the EU Commission of the West & North West for a second time to now a ‘lagging’ region.
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Rural Development, Claire Kerrane TD raised the matter with the Minister for Rural Development in the Dáil this morning and flagged the need for positive discrimination to bring the region up to par.
Deputy Kerrane also raised the need for the urgent introduction of a rural-proofing mechanism to ensure communities in the West and North West do not fall any further behind.
Speaking today, Teachta Kerrane said: “The NRWA has noted that this is due to a lack of investment in infrastructure, a weak urban structure, a below average proportion of high valued jobs and an under-investment in research and development.
“I pointed out during my exchange with the Minister this morning, that the utilisation of a rural-proofing mechanism would ensure that Government decisions do not disproportionately impact rural communities.
“The experience of the West and North West Region demonstrates how government policies can seriously impact rural regions, so it is clear that policy decisions must be rural-proofed to promote regional equality.
“We now need urgent investment and commitment to rural-proofing policies from Government. We need a regional stimulus package for the West and North West Region and a policy of positive discrimination if we are to reverse this seriously alarming trend.
“I am making this call following stark findings published by the Northern & Western Regional Assembly (NWRA) earlier this month, which show that the gap between the West and North West Region and the State average has progressively widened over the past decade.
“The difference in disposable income alone has increased from a difference of €1,400 in 2011 to €3,973 in 2021.
“It is crucial that communities in the West and North West Region can prosper and I will continue to hold the Government to account on the issue.”