Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Elimination of poverty and deprivation a priority

31 August, 2004

Sinn Féin Economic Spokesperson and Foyle MLA Mitchel Mc Laughlin has said that his party is committed to the elimination of poverty and deprivation through developing and promoting integrated infrastructural, economic and social inclusion policies on an all-Ireland basis.

Mr Mc Laughlin said:

"The areas referred to as the 'border corridor' although not alone in suffering from poverty and deprivation can be used as an example of how the lack of integrated social and infrastructural planning has led to under-development and a lower standard of living than in those areas closer to the centres of decision making. I feel that a meaningful approach to eliminating poverty will, by necessity, have to adopt a human rights based approach and draw all sectors of Irish society closer together.

"Accepting that poverty and deprivation recognise no boundaries, within the context of North-South co-operation, it is generally accepted that the areas immediately adjacent to the border represent some of the most disadvantaged areas on the island. Additionally these areas suffer more directly from the negative effects that partition has had on development opportunities.

"If we concentrate on the 'border corridors' as an example, I believe that we can see how non-integrated planning by authorities on either side of the border has had a negative effect on the development and growth of our economy. We will also recognise how co-operation and integration at the planning stages is essential if we are to eliminate the disparity with other regions.

" I would suggest that the most appropriate framework for regional development is Integrated Area Plans.

" An Integrated Area Plan could be developed in each of the three border corridor zones (North West, Central and Eastern) taking account of the interdependent relationships between social, economic, environmental and spatial development in a dynamic and mutually reinforcing way.

"One area that springs to mind where co-operation and integrated planning would deliver major benefits is in road infrastructure and transport. Efficient and competitive integrated public transport services are critical to the development of trade, inward investment and tourism. It is also essential for the provision of equality of access to employment opportunities through providing improved means of mobility to major labour markets.

"I believe that through the provision of accessible and affordable public transport we can widen the areas of employment opportunities for those on low incomes and provide them with a route out of the poverty trap.

"Enhanced all-Ireland transport infrastructure offers the potential for major economic and social gains for the whole island and the structure for achieving this outcome is contained in the GFA.

"I consider that what should be a key aim of transport development policy in Dublin and Belfast would be to improve infrastructure and integration within and between road and public transport networks, in both jurisdictions, so as to provide a more coherent and sustainable strategic transport network for the island as a whole. The objective should be the generation of an all-Ireland co-ordinated transport and logistics plan.

" I believe that the developmental logic that would inform the Integrated Area Plans is based on the premise that it is simply not good enough to promote a purely economic driven process. Social, spatial and environmental initiatives need to be built into the plan. All of these essential considerations are interlinked and cannot be divorced one from the others - and so the regional development framework would be a totally integrated one. I am convinced that to be successful the integrated area plans should be participative and premised on co-operative planning by local government authorities and other stakeholders working comfortably together in a cross border 'power-sharing' environment." ENDS

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