19 April 2001 Edition

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MacManus to host Northwest cross-border conference

The Mayor of Sligo, Sinn Féin Alderman Sean MacManus, is to host a major cross-border conference in Sligo on Tuesday 15 May. The initiative is designed to develop and harness the full economic and infrastructural potential of the Northwest.

Among those invited to attend the conference, which will take place in City Hall Sligo, are the mayors and chairpersons of Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan and Donegal County Councils, Fermanagh, Derry, Strabane and Omagh District Councils as well as a number of guest speakers, yet to be announced.

Mayor MacManus said: ``The Northwest region of Ireland, both in this state and in the Six Counties, has yet to achieve its full potential, either economically, infrastructurally or politically. With different counties vying against each other for support and investment and given the difficulties and duplication created by partition and the absence of any long term government strategy, the result has been a piecemeal approach to the development of the region. Local communities, businesses and the entire region suffer as the economic and infrastructural imbalance between the East and the West coasts widens even further.

``With the ongoing All-Ireland developments, there is now a real opportunity for this region, which has been neglected for far too long by successive Irish and British governments, to benefit from the peace dividend and the current buoyancy in the 26-County economy. To successfully capitalise on and achieve the full potential of the situation, we need a co-ordinated approach from all the counties within the region with clearly stated objectives.

``It is with this goal in mind that this initiative has been undertaken. This will see the leaders of all the local authorities in this entire region on both sides of the border sitting down together, discussing and focusing on the problems that we face and devising a strategy to tackle these shortcomings and enhance the economic and infrastructural development of the Northwest.''

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