North West ranks 218th out of 234 EU regions on infrastructure index, TD laments ‘severe deficit’
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Sinn Féin TD Rose Conway Walsh said the north west was suffering a severe infrastructure deficit.
She pointed to the recently published EU Regional Competitiveness Index 2.0 - 2022 edition and its infrastructure pillar in which the Northern and Western region of Ireland scored 34.1, which was well below the average for the European regions.
“Recently released data from the EU as part of the EU regional competitiveness index lay bare the severity of the infrastructure deficit in the west and the north west,” she told the Dáil.
Addressing the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, she stated: "These regions' competitiveness has been undermined by the failure of the Government and successive Governments to invest in the west and the north west.
"Out of the 234 designated regions across the EU, the north-west region ranks at 218th for infrastructure.
"This places the region in the bottom 7 per cent, alongside some of the poorest regions in the EU such as Romania, Latvia and Bulgaria.
"Decades of failure to invest in the vital infrastructure needed to enable the potential of the western seaboard can no longer be tolerated. The crumbs from the table are not enough. They will not feed the ambition of those of us who truly understand the opportunity cost and the potential of the Atlantic economic corridor. What is the Government going to do to address these independently verified and shocking figures?”
The Taoiseach said the Government was investing in the West.
"With regard to investment in the west, enormous investment is happening in the west of Ireland at present. Only a few weeks ago the Minister, Deputy [Simon] Coveney, announced probably the biggest private sector investment ever in the west of Ireland, that is, 1,000 jobs being created by Dexcom in Athenry.
"I will be in Mayo shortly to open the new road between Westport and Castlebar. It is a €250 million investment, which is probably the biggest ever public investment in County Mayo.
"I am keen to continue to engage with Ireland West Airport Knock as to how we can invest there. There is also the national broadband plan. Hundreds of millions of euro of investment are going in every year.”
Deputy Varadkar acknowledged that more investment is needed. However, he claimed that the 26 counties would be in recession by 2028 if members of the Opposition parties form a Government after the next General Election which is due to take place in 2025 at the latest.
"More is needed and it will continue for so long as the parties in government are in government. If the Opposition parties get into office there will be a fundamental change of economic policy and we will be in a recession within three years and they will be cutting all of these budgets,” said the Taoiseach.
Deputy Conway-Walsh responded to this by remarking how the EU figures were ‘independent’.
The Taoiseach replied: “Mark my words and somebody keep this for the future, in the unlikely event they ever form a government.”