The "unbalanced" nature of Ireland’s economic development must be addressed despite the economic downturn, a report on the west of Ireland said today.
The report published by economist Jim Power of Friends First examined the effect of the boom years on counties Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo, Mayo, Roscommon, Longford, Offaly, Galway and Westmeath.
“One of the most worrying features of the strong Irish economic performance of recent years has been the unbalanced nature of regional economic growth and development,” Mr Power said at the report’s launch in Galway this morning.
“It is incumbent on policy makers and stakeholders to rectify this regional imbalance which won’t be easy in today’s testing economic and financial circumstances.”
He said the Government must ensure that national policies, such as Transport 21 and the National Development Plan, are delivered to the fullest extent possible despite the difficult economic and financial environment.
“Already, some projects are being deferred or delayed and certainly there is a clear risk that this will get worse over the next couple of years as the Government struggles to rebalance the national finances,” Mr Power added
Mr Power highlighted a number of measures, which he said should be taken:
The completion of the inter-urban motorway network by 2010;
The funding of essential capital works at the six existing regional airports;
The upgrading of the N5 with an investment of €220 million over four years to protect 9,000 manufacturing jobs. According to the Mayo Industries Group the bad condition of the road from Longford to Scramogue in Roscommon is damaging product, delivery and travel times are slow and cost competitiveness is being negatively affected;
Broadband availability needs to be improved as it is “a key business and economic enabler particularly important for geographically remote areas”.
The report highlighted the fact that the midlands region had the lowest level of disposable income in the State (9.4 per cent lower than the national average and 19.3 per cent lower than the highest region Dublin). The Border region had second lowest (8.9 per cent lower than national average and 18.9 per cent lower than Dublin) and the west region third lowest (7 per cent lower than national average and 17.2 per cent lower than Dublin).