Greater EU emphasis needed for North West & Border Communities
Sinn Féin Regional Development spokesperson, Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has welcomed the comments of European Regional Policy Commissioner, Dante Hubner who called for targeted assistance for geographically isolated areas within the EU. Mr McCartney said that he hoped that this approach would be reflected in the next round of EU Structural Funds 2007 - 2013 and deliver real, meaningful and lasting change in the North West and entire Border Corridor.
Mr. McCartney said:
"Partition has actively discriminated against communities who live on, at or near the border. Nowhere is more greatly felt that in Derry. The regional disparity and lack of social and economic development opportunity that exists in the North West region is evidence of the failed policy and decision-making that has become synonymous with the North West region.
"It is time to recognise that marginalised areas in the Border region as designated areas of social and economic need and to strategically and systematically identify key areas for action as agreed in many the policy documents aimed at tackling the problem, including the Good Friday Agreement and Common Chapter.
"The only way to redress regional disparity and kick start economic development in peripheral regions is to put in place the legislative and decision-making mechanisms to deliver effective change on transport, tourism, energy, sustainable development, culture, health and education.
"It is not enough to throw money at a problem without having the structure to transform the quality of life for people on the ground. Balanced regional development needs to happen. It needs to be taken off the pages of glossy framework documents and turned into a reality.
"The EU can and must play a central role in promoting greater integration in this region. Sinn Féin has won the argument on developing our all-Ireland analysis. Both the British and Irish Governments have acknowledged this reality. Whatever of the current phase geared towards restoring all of the political institutions, the two Governments must deliver the benefits of harmonisation of essential services. Unionism must also wake up to this reality." ENDS