Sinn Féin spokesperson on Rural Development, Claire Kerrane TD, has expressed concern regarding the announcement that the EU Commission has downgraded the West & North West to a ‘lagging region’.
This downgrade by the European Commission is due to the region becoming significantly less well-off, relative to the European average, over recent years.
The region, which includes Counties Galway, Roscommon, Leitrim, Sligo, Donegal, Monaghan and Mayo, was downgraded from ‘more developed’ status to a ‘Region in Transition’ in 2019 and has now been downgraded to a ‘lagging region’.
It is the only region in the State to be classified in this way. The region has been described as facing ‘a range of challenges’ in a stark assessment from the Commission.
These challenges include lower productivity and educational attainment, as well as a weaker skills base and business environment in the region.
Speaking today, Teachta Kerrane said:
“The news of the West & North West’s downgrading once again as now a lagging region is seriously concerning.
“However, it is not surprising. It is the direct consequences of decades of under investment in the region.
“That the region has been downgraded twice and is the only area in the State to be classified in this way is unacceptable. The Commission also found that if left unaddressed, the trend of growing inequalities between regions would have a damaging impact on the economic and social well-being.
“The findings underline the urgent need for investment in the region, to ensure people living in the West & North West can access a good quality of living and the same opportunities as other parts of the State.
“The Northern & Western Regional Assembly have done much good work in showing exactly what needs to now be done to regain our Developed status. They have detailed the need for positive discrimination for our region to make this happen.
“The assessment was included in a partnership agreement document between Ireland and the EU last week. As part of the agreement, €20 million in funding will be provided to the North and West of the country.
“We have a window now where we can access increased funding from the EU to turn this around and we need to see that happen urgently. This is something I have raised with Minister Humphreys and will continue to pursue.
“It is critical now that every effort is taken to ensure the West & North West receives increased and sustained funding and investment to turn this around.”