16 August 2007
West Council fury at Govt commitment to Balanced Regional Development
The Council for the West has called on the Taoiseach, and Ministers Noel Dempsey and Eamon O Cuiv to prove their commitment to balanced regional development and to the west region in particular.
Following discussions with other western groups in relation to Aer Lingus's withdrawal of Heathrow flights from Shannon, the Council for the West says two leased Heathrow slots and two slots from Belfast should be used to restore the four crucial slots to Shannon.
"The situation can then be reviewed after two years," said Council chairman Sean Hannick, adding, "the Government action on Shannon speaks volumes on its commitment to balanced regional development which has received much lip service but precious little ground-breaking action."
He said the unilateral Aer Lingus decision highlighted the need for proper, effective balanced regional development.
"This is an objective of all Western Development groups and we now call on our own Minister Eamon O Cuiv to spearhead this effort together with Minister’s Willie O'Dea, Mary Coughlan, Michael Kitt, Pat The Cope Gallagher, and Tony Killeen.
"The Government's commitment to equitable development in this region, the national spatial strategy and decentralisation are all now called into question," he said.
Chairman Hannick also called on all organisations along the western seaboard from Kerry to Donegal to come together to insist on the implementation of a proper regional development policy. These would include public representatives, county and town council chairpersons, etc.
"Such an alliance would have as its first priority the front loading of Transport 21 initiatives for the region, including the Atlantic Road corridor and the Western Rail corridor. We must demand that the Government returns the 3.65 billion euro spend designated for BMW region infrastructure that was to have been invested before the end of 2006 and which now has been spent elsewhere," he added.
"And we'd also like to know where the junior parties in Government, the Greens, the PDs, the Independents Beverley Flynn and Jackie Healy Rea stand in relation to all of this lop-sided preferential treatment which continues to disadvantage the western seaboard," said Mr Hannick.
"It is time to start counting heads and see who steps up to the plate," he warned
The Council for the West is a voluntary, independent, non-political body which monitors and reports on the socio-economic state of the West and acts as a lobby group promoting the development of the West. The Council for the West was set up by the Western Bishops and has successfully campaigned for retention of Objective 1 Status for the region.
It continues to campaign for balanced regional development and highlights issues of major concern for the region.
Public Relations Officer: Terry Reilly 086 8109518 / 096 21603 / email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-ordinator: Caroline Wilson, Tel: 096 32975 / email: email@example.com
Sean Hannick: Co.Mayo, Tel: 096 32255 / 087 2564824, email: firstname.lastname@example.org