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Thu, Jan
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Regional imbalance ‘unsustainable and irresponsible’ - Conway Walsh


RURAL FIGHTSinn Féin TD Rose Conway-Walsh pictured with Henry Keane, from Blacksod on the canvass ahead of last February’s General Election. Deputy Conway-Walsh says the ‘long-term pattern of snubbing rural areas is neither sensible nor sustainable’. Pic: Conor McKeown

Áine Ryan

THE fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit have compounded the stark realities of regional imbalance in this country.
That is the view of Sinn Féin TD, Rose Conway-Walsh, who has said that this ‘long-term pattern of snubbing rural areas is neither sensible nor sustainable’.
“Fair, logical and future-focused nationwide development does not currently exist as evidenced in the overpopulation of Dublin and our major cities,” she said.
Conway-Walsh believes it is ‘imperative that government provide the infrastructure necessary to enable people to live, work and thrive in every village, town and city in the country’.
“The fact is that the criteria used for cost-benefit analysis on major projects mitigates against investment in the regions. I am asking that Government change this,” she said.
Strategic objectives must be made in investment policies and decision if transformational change is to be effected. This should be carried out with more transparency.  
“Central government departments must work efficiently and effectively together and in congruence with local communities to achieve faster and better outcomes.
We need to move away from decision-making by audit companies who do not have skin in the game. Relying wholly on analysis from auditors using narrow monetary measures, often based on population, rather than the transformation change that is required, impedes potential growth,” Ms Conway-Walsh argues.
She underpins her argument by saying that beneficial projects should not just be defined initially in monetary terms.
“There are often benefits to projects requiring capital investment that, cannot be, or are difficult to monetise. Too often these projects are dismissed at an early stage in the appraisal process or delayed for years, even decades,” she continued.
She cited the ‘huge opportunities for growth potential in the green economy along the western seaboard’.  
“This is particularly important as we have the legal requirement to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. To meet these climate obligations, we need a vast array of, and rapid increase in, high-skilled green collar jobs in construction, public transport, retrofitting, research and development of new technologies.”
Concluding she said the potential of the Atlantic Economic Corridor must be maximised alongside  sustainable investment in the Western Rail Corridor, the SDZ Zone at Knock Airport, roads such as the R312, the N5, the N26 and other vital infrastructure.
“Covid-19 has taught us that we cannot continue with business as usual. Therefore, continuing the pattern of overburdening cities and ignoring rural areas is irresponsible,” Deputy Conway Walsh said.