EU Report confirms West's exclusion
Sinn Féin's Vincent Wood has pointed to a recent EU report to emphasise the need for a strong regional voice for the West.
Speaking at a meeting in Belmullet, the Sinn Féin National Executive member said that successive governments have failed the West.
``Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael administrations and coalitions, including Labour and the PDs, have been shown to be Dublin-centred in their approach,'' said Wood. ``We hear lots about Western development, yet large swathes of County Mayo, especially in the north and northwest of the county, are considered employment wastelands.
``Real Convergence and Catching Up in the EU, an EU Economy 2000 Review, published last week by the European Commission, confirms what we already know here. Per capita income in the BMW (Border, Midlands, West) area rose from 59.8 per cent to 74.3 per cent of the EU average during 1991-97, but declined significantly as a share of per capita national income in the same period (from 78.7 per cent to 71.4 per cent). The result was a growing gulf between the regions as the South East absorbed substantially more than its fair share of the benefits of the state's growth.'' Wood pointed out that this region in the same period saw its per capita income grow from 82 per cent of the EU average to 114.7 per cent, while its share of per capita national income increased three percentage points to 110.3 per cent.
``If we are to cherish all of the children of the nation equally, then such disparities must be addressed,'' he said. ``Some `positive discrimination' is needed so that the people of the West have the same equality of opportunity as others in the state.''