New internal all-Ireland Regional Development working group established
Sinn Féin has held an intra-party meeting in the Assembly in order to coordinate an effective regional development strategy with a clear all-Ireland focus.
Those present included Six County Sinn Féin Minister Regional Development Conor Murphy, Derry MLA Raymond McCartney and Cathal Boylan MLA for Newry Armagh, Donegal Senator Pearse Doherty and Inisowen Councillor Padraig MacLochlainn.
Mr McCartney said:
"The island of Ireland can be viewed in terms of the historic neglect and stagnation of the border corridor, which has occurred as a result of the partition of Ireland since 1922. Social, economic and spatial deprivation resulting from the dislocation of the 6 counties from the 26 counties, impacts negatively on the opportunities and quality of life of the people who live adjacent to it. This has a detrimental affect for both the individual and the community as a whole.
"The border corridor can be defined by low wages, high unemployment, and low educational attainment, the duality of services, poor roads, inadequate transport systems, insufficient energy supplies and poor environmental developments.
"Wealth is centred in the two biggest cities, Dublin and Belfast leading to disparity across the island especially in areas straddling the border. Sinn Féin is committed to the elimination of poverty and deprivation on the island of Ireland and to ensuring that we have a rights based society, therefore an all-Ireland approach to regional development is central to our ability to affect change and develop a prosperous nation in the future'.
"Though cautioning against the political realties that exist which prevent the Assembly from setting its own taxation and public expenditure, he stressed that a complete devolution of powers would be a positive step forward however it must be noted that Sinn Féin are in the unique position of having public representatives in every legislative arena across the island of Ireland. By having this ability to ensure projects are pursued with the same vigour on both sides of the border will make certain that the border counties are developed on an all Ireland basis rather than the dual approach presently taken.
"The meeting today marks the beginning of a working group that will meet on a regular basis to discuss the development and implementation of regional development strategies that will have an all-Ireland focus and we will ensure that dismantling regional disparity is high on our list of priorities in government." ENDS