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BMW Assembly Deputation meets An Taoiseach

Press Release 20th November 2004

A deputation from the Border, Midland and Western Regional Assembly met with the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern TD, and senior Government Officials, in Government Buildings on Thursday evening last to discuss a number of issues of concern to the region and to the Regional Assembly and to present the Taoiseach with a submission on developing more effective regional policy.

The seven member deputation, led by Cathaoirleach, Councillor Connie Hanniffy, acknowledged that while good progress is being made in some areas of investment, there has been significant under-spend in national roads, public transport, research and development and industry supports generally. The Deputation urged the Taoiseach to ensure that the Government meets its expenditure targets as set out in the NDP.

The Taoiseach complimented the work of the Regional Assemblies in the management of the structural funds and stated that the Assembly was doing valuable work in taking a regional perspective on development priorities.

The deputation called for a stronger commitment to infrastructure in the regions, a clear implementation plan for the National Spatial Strategy and called for greater Government investment in building the region‚s research and innovation capacity. The deputation informed the Taoiseach of the Regional Assembly‚s support for the re-opening of the Western Rail Corridor and proposed that road and rail links between the designated gateways and hubs should be prioritised in current investment programmes and called for continued investment in telecommunications, energy and air transport infrastructure in the region.

The Taoiseach was presented with a copy of the Audit of Innovation in the BMW Region which was recently published and informed the Taoiseach of the stark difference between the level of technological innovation and research and development activity taking place in the BMW region, compared with the Southern and Eastern region and emphasised that unless greater resources are allocated to this area, the region will continue to lag behind.

The Regional Assembly deputation also called for a stronger regional dimension in the plans and policies of state support agencies, regional ring-fencing of investment programmes and multi-annual capital envelopes and the setting of regional targets in national strategies in order to increase the infrastructure provision and productive capacity of the region. The deputation informed the Taoiseach that the Assembly is currently in the process of identifying where future investments should be prioritised in the region post 2006 and would be making proposals in early 2005.

The Assembly recommended that the Regional Assemblies should play a greater role in the drafting and implementation of future EU co-funded programmes and that these programmes should be managed regionally in partnership with Government. The Government was also asked to support the case for the BMW region to remain as an Œobjective one‚ region with a suitable transitional arrangement post 2006, as currently applies in the Southern and Eastern region.

In response to the issues raised, the Taoiseach stated that he was conscious of the concerns expressed and stated that he recognised the need for Government to take these concerns on board. He accepted that expenditure was behind target in the BMW region for some measures in the NDP but informed the deputation that significant progress was being made and that the BMW region was benefiting from this. He also referred to the benefits that will arise from the decentralisation of civil and public servants and from the implementation of the National Spatial Strategy.

The Taoiseach also acknowledged the work of the Working Group that is currently examining the feasibility of the Western Rail Corridor project, and which is expected to report in early 2005.

The Director of the BMW Regional Assembly, Mr. Gerry Finn stated that the meeting with the Taoiseach had provided an opportunity to raise both specific issues regarding investment in the BMW region and also strategic issues regarding regional policy and he expressed his intention to seek similar meetings with the Taoiseach, Ministers and senior Officials in the future, particularly on issues concerning investment in the region and on the future of EU cohesion policy.








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