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Oisin O’Connell - The South East faces serious challenges and real opportunities

8 February, 2014

We have an unemployment rate almost 5% higher, and people attending third level education by over 5% lower, than the statewide average.

We have one of the highest rates of employment in agriculture and manufacturing, but among the tiniest rates of Research & Development in both private enterprise and higher education, that would add value to both.

All the previous are connected, and all need realistic, joined-up thinking to create a virtuous cycle of success.

We have a valuable network of physical, intellectual, and social capital embedded in our communities - but neglected, hamstrung, sabotaged by institutional inertia and the political abdication of responsibility.

Our Institutes of Technology campuses, our rail and port infrastructure, our dormant sugarbeet industry, our fishing, forestry and biofuel potential all want to soar, but languish.

It's not enough only to fight to protect the social safety net that catches us when we fall - we need to remove the nets above us that prevent us from soaring.

Senator Cullinane as official rapporteur has produced the official joined-up thinking for the oireachtas in the South East Economic Development plan. The plan has broad acceptance, it is doable, it deals with all the above and much more.

No matter who you are, and who you vote for, make sure that they make Senator Cullinane's South East Economic Development plan their number one priority. And the best way to guarantee that, is to make your priority: Sinn Féin, Number 1.

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