Study finds startling levels of inequality in investment in northern and western regions of Ireland
Health, infrastructure and education in the west and north of Ireland need a policy of “positive discrimination” following years of neglect, a new study shows.
A study by the Northern & Western Regional Assembly (NWRA) has stated that Ireland’s northern and western regions face being left behind in a "two speed economy" and that a policy of "positive discrimination" needs to be implemented to accelerate growth and stem decline in the north, west and border communities of Ireland.
Amongst the main findings in the study was that investment in health infrastructure in the northern and western regions is below the state average in eight out of 11 years.
Elsewhere, the amount of third level infrastructure funding per undergraduate is significantly lower in the north and west (€141 compared to the national average of €197).
The study states that it found "startling levels of inequality in terms of investment across a number of key areas such as health, education, infrastructure and transport".
"Failure to address these critical investment shortfalls means that a ‘two-speed economy’ has developed in Ireland," it said.
The report is based on a 10-year study by the chief economist of the NWRA, John Daly.
In terms of transport, the regions received just €87,240 for national roads per km compared to the national average of €116,054. Elsewhere, Ireland West Airport Knock received the lowest level of capital and operational grants per passenger out of all the regional airports.
The study also states that the EU has downgraded the northern and western regions from being regarded as ‘Developed’ and has applied a new designation of ‘In Transition' to the areas.
Commenting on the report, chairperson of the NWRA Declan McDonnell said: “Although the national economy is growing, this regions relative growth has not kept pace creating a two-speed economy. We have seen the impact of regional inequality in the UK, that’s why this report is timely in calling for ‘positive discrimination’ to address the deficit. With the general election campaign ongoing, now is the time to address the future of rural Ireland as we know it.”
The report recommends a number of steps that could be introduced to improve the situation, including: developing Galway and the region’s designated regional growth centres and key towns to sufficient scale, improving the region’s human capital levels via its third level institutions, enhancing regional infrastructure that enables growth and supporting small and medium enterprises in rural communities.
You can read the report in full here.