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Doherty proposes use of positive discrimination to prioritise development of the west

22 August, 2008 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has said the rejuvenation of the west of Ireland, including the islands, must be a top priority for the Government in the time ahead. He said the Government must use positive discrimination to prioritise the west after years of neglect.

Senator Doherty has been touring the west coast this week to gather information to inform an Oireachtas Report which he is producing on "What is required to develop the counties along the west coast of Ireland, both in economic and social terms."

Speaking from Sligo this afternoon as he completed his tour Senator Doherty said, "Having visited the counties of the west coast this week and after meeting with approximately fifty different groups my opinion that the west is suffering a death by a thousand cuts has been reinforced.

"During the consultation process many of the same issues were brought up time and again in every county including, the problem of access to the west and within the west, the lack of broadband provision and equality of access to public services.

"Community development projects in each county all pointed to a lack of support from Government even though they are basically doing the work that the Government is failing to do.

"It is also quite obvious that the Government employment strategy prioritises gateway towns while smaller towns are neglected. We need to see a new employment strategy that includes initiatives to attract jobs to our small towns if they are to survive.

"One of the most striking and worrying things that I have learned of is the awful neglect of our island communities off the west of Ireland. All Government policies need to make provisions for the unique nature of our island communities if they are to survive.

"It is clear that the west is playing catch-up with the rest of the state and the Government must prioritise the rejuvenation of the west including the island communities in the time ahead. I believe the use of positive discrimination is needed to prioritise the west after years of neglect." ENDS

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