- The economy of the North-West of Ireland has been declining in recent years.
- Such a decline has been accompanied by a lack of investment from Central Government
- Failure to support the North-West’s economy will undermine Government policy.
- North-West needs a sizeable stimulus package and a policy of “Positive Discrimination”.
The North West Regional Assembly, one of Ireland’s three regional authorities, is calling for Budget 2022 to revitalise the North-West’s economy and to address the long-term underinvestment in the region’s infrastructure, by providing a sizeable stimulus package for the North-West of Ireland.
In its pre-budget submission, the NWRA has highlighted the economic challenges facing the North-West of Ireland and how the region’s economy is being left behind with an urgent call for support.
John Daly – NWRA’s Chief Economist – said: “The decline in the North-West’s economy is evident from the European Commission’s decision to downgrade the region’s economic status from a ‘More Developed Region’ to a ‘Transition Region’ – the only region in Ireland to hold such a status – while the North-West was the only region in Ireland to be classified as a ‘Moderate Innovator’, namely a region with an innovation index score between 70% and 100% of the EU average.”
Mr Daly added: “The European Parliament has also categorised the North-West as a ‘Lagging Region’, which is a region with low economic growth and divergent from the performance of its own national economy. These designations highlight the notable challenges facing the North-West’s economy; with such issues common in some of the poorest regions in the EU”.
The Assembly’s Pre-Budget submission shows that the decline in the North-West’s economy was also accompanied by long-term underinvestment in the region’s transport, research, education and health infrastructure. Notably between 2010 and 2020, Mr Daly revealed that capital investment in higher education infrastructure in the North-West – on average – amounted to €316 per undergraduate enrolled compared to a national norm of €375, while capital spending on higher education in the North-West was below the State norm in 8 out of the last 11 years.
Within this context, the NWRA’s submission is calling on Budget 2022 to revitalise the North-West’s economy and to address the long-term underinvestment in the region’s infrastructure, by providing a sizeable stimulus package for the North-West of Ireland, adopting a capital investment policy of “Positive Discrimination” towards the North-West and delivering a wide range of investment priorities which will support the implementation of Project Ireland 2040 and the Programme for Government.
David Minton – Director of the NWRA – said: “Budget 2022 will be key to tackling the economic challenges facing the North-West; challenges which – if unaddressed – could notably exacerbate regional inequalities and undermine the ability of policymakers to deliver balanced regional development. Therefore, our submission is calling for a sizeable regional stimulus package for the North-West of Ireland, to support the recovery of the region’s economy and provide a platform for the region to become more urban, specialised, smart, green, connected and focused on people.”
Mr Minton added: “In total, we have outlined 45 investment priorities that the Assembly would like to see reflected in Budget 2022, with our priorities ranging from delivering the proposed Connacht-Ulster Technological University, creating low-carbon economy training centres, implementing our region’s compact growth targets, improving the region’s digital and transport infrastructure and providing a 100% redress scheme to households affected by Mica, Pyrite and Pyrrhotite