6 January 2000 Edition

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Urgent action needed for border region

BY MÍCHEÁL Mac DONNCHA

Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has said that urgent government action is needed to reverse the neglect of the border region as revealed in the latest IDA employment figures. The figures show that while all regions in the state have seen increased employment in IDA-supported companies the border counties now have actually less IDA-supported jobs than they did in 1995, despite the economic boom which has seen the South and East regions surging ahead.

There were 11,687 people employed in IDA-supported industries in the border counties in 1995. There was little change over the following years, with 11,029 employed in 1998. This fell to 10,151 in 1999.

In its report, the IDA says that ``the unevenness of job creation across the country is of great concern''. The Agency identifies development of infrastructure as the key requirement. ``There are too many regions at a disadvantage from uncompetitive infrastructure and lack of business support services to be able to attract the required level of new and modern business investment'' says IDA Chief Executive Seán Dorgan.

Commenting on the IDA report, Cavan/Monaghan Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:

``These figures are an indictment of the neglect of the border counties by successive governments, including the present administration. Once again, the Border is shown to be the Cinderella of the regions in the 26 Counties. Meanwhile, massive numbers of jobs are flowing into Dublin where the transport and housing infrastructure can no longer cope with the pressure. This shows a failure in government planning.

``The IDA in its report says that imperative to the growth of Objective One regions, which include the border, will be to put in place in a limited time frame the infrastructural developments outlined in the National Development Plan. I agree but would add that much more is needed and that measures not included in the Plan must also be undertaken with urgency.

``One of the glaring omissions from the National Development Plan is an East-West Link which would connect major centres and counties along its route from Dundalk to Sligo. This is a key and critical proposal. It requires the co-operation of all the relevant agencies on both sides of the border and the EU. The Irish government must take the lead in promoting this proposal.''

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