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Dublin: 14 °C Tuesday 26 May, 2020

'Positive discrimination' needed to address inequality in the west and north of the country

A report from the regional authority pointed to significant levels of inequality.

Aerial shot around Galway in the west of Ireland.
Aerial shot around Galway in the west of Ireland.
Image: Shutterstock/David Steele

HEALTH, INFRASTRUCTURE AND education in the west and north of Ireland need a policy of “positive discrimination” following years of neglect, a report from the Northern and Western Regional Assembly. 

The report from the NWRA, one of three regional authorities responsible for driving regional growth across the country, pointed to levels of inequality in a number of areas. 

The NWRA is specifically responsible for the border, western and northern counties in Ireland, and manages EU funding for regional development across the eight counties. 

In its report, it describes a “two-speed” economy which has developed in Ireland as a result of disproportionate growth in different areas. 

The data contained in the report is based on a 10-year study by chief economist of the NWRA, John Daly. 

The study found that eight counties in the region have not performed economically as well as other regions, or relative to the EU norm. 

This is despite the region demonstrating more sophisticated local economies specialising in biotechnology, medical technology, precision engineering and AI.

Chairperson of the NWRA Declan McDonnell said: “Although the national economy is growing, this region’s 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 measures that could be introduced to boost to hasten the pace at which the region is growing. 

Recommendations include developing Galway and other regional growth centres to a sufficient scale, as well as developing the region’s human capital levels via its third level institutions. 

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