The Government is being urged to provide the republic’s northern and western region with a stimulus package worth at least €570 million to kick-start development across the ailing area. The call has been made by the Northern and Western Regional Assembly (NWRA) in a submission to the Department of Finance ahead of Budget 2024 next month.
The NWRA, which represents the counties of Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Mayo, Galway, Roscommon, Cavan, and Monaghan, is one of three Regional Assemblies tasked with helping strengthen the development of Ireland’s regions in a strategic manner. It says a multi-million-euro stimulus package is necessary to stem growing regional inequality and to deliver balanced regional development in Ireland.
To address these challenges in the long-term, the NWRA is also calling on the Government to adopt a policy of “positive discrimination” for the Northern and Western Region in its rollout of infrastructure projects in the National Development Plan (NDP).
According to the NWRA, a policy of “positive discrimination” would result in rebalancing legacy underinvestment of new infrastructure projects for the region, increased capital expenditure to bring more infrastructure projects of scale to the Northern and Western Region, and reforms to the public spending code to ensure population size and rural structure of the Northern and Western Region are accounted for in the planning of regional development projects. Furthermore, the NWRA is calling for a Citizens Assembly to be set up to examine how greater levels of regional autonomy can be delivered in Ireland, with Ireland’s centralised government system credited for high levels of regional inequality and disengagement in rural regions.
The NWRA is calling for the delivery of these priorities due to the fact the Northern and Western Region of Ireland is officially classified as a ‘Transition Region’, which is given to regions in which the GDP per capita is between 75% and 100% of the EU27 average, the only region in Ireland to hold such a status.
Councillor John Naughten (Cathaoirleach of the NWRA) said, “Ireland’s Northern and Western region has for decades suffered from underinvestment in critical enabling infrastructure. This time we cannot afford to have history repeat itself. An economic stimulus would give the region a once in a lifetime opportunity to reverse economic malaise and give our young people hope for a better future, in this region”.