A deputation from the Border, Midland and Western Regional Assembly met with the Taoiseach, Mr. Bertie Ahern TD, along with Ministers John Gormley TD, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, and Éamon Ó Cuív TD, Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs in Government Buildings on Wednesday, November 14th. The eight-member deputation, led by Leas-Cathaoirleach, Councillor Andrew Boylan, presented the Taoiseach with a submission on ‘More Effective Implementation of Regional Policy’ which outlined a number of issues of concern to the region. The Director of the BMW Regional Assembly, Mr. Gerry Finn stated that this meeting with the Taoiseach and senior cabinet Ministers had provided an opportunity to raise both strategic regional issues as well as specific issues concerning the implementation of regional policy and he expressed his intention to seek similar meetings with the Taoiseach and with Ministers in the future, particularly on issues concerning investment in the region and on the future of Irish regional policy. The deputation acknowledged that while good progress is being made in some areas of investment in the region, the region faced several challenges. These challenges include the continued disparity in regional economic performance, the brain drain of graduates and the region’s poor performance in research and innovation, the region’s relatively poor infrastructure endowment, the need to address environmental issues and to increase the production and consumption of renewable energy. The investment proposals from the region’s gateways under the Gateway Innovation Fund were supported by the deputation. The deputation raised concerns with regard to the high level of local funding required in order for water and waste water projects to proceed and the difficulties arising from the proposed change to the funding of community childcare facilities. Finally the deputation called for a more coherent regional policy framework with clear policy targets, the re-introduction of investment forecasts at regional level in order to monitor the regional impact of the new NDP, a stronger role for regional bodies in national investment planning, better co-ordination of regional policy across Government and a greater emphasis on regional competitiveness.