30 May 2006
West Council calls for meeting with Ahern
The Council for the West, a voluntary non-political lobby group, has expressed surprise that
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and some of his ministers seem unaware that the West is falling further
and further behind the East and South region in the economic boom.
Last week in the Dail the Taoisech was on record as saying that, according to all analysis,
the Western region was doing better than the South and the East. Yet, EU statistics show that
while the East and South regions have a GDP of more than half again of the EU average, while
the BMW region lags way behind. In fact the South and East regions have between them attained
149% of the EU average while the BMW region lags way behind at 92%.
The latest figures show that the average GDP per inhabitant in the most affluent part of the country
was 38,778 euro, while the figure in the West is 24,025 - a gap of more than 13,000 euro.
Council Chairman Sean Hannick said it beggared belief that the Taoiseach's understanding of the
position would be so wildly at variance with the facts.
Despite our constant drawing of attention to the diverging economies in this country and our campaign
for a fair share for the West, the message is not getting through to Mr Ahern and some of his ministers.
Attention has already been drawn on many occasions to the fact that the BMW region is £3.65bn behind
in commitments under the National Development Plan, while tourism and roads allocations are also
lagging. Yet, it seems, either the Government is not listening or we are not shouting loudly enough,"
said Mr Hannick.
He said the Council would now be writing personally to Mr Ahern to seek a meeting with him. "Maybe
that is the only way to get through to Government who need to listen to this side of the country, too.
And in case anyone thinks we are inventing figures let me say this: The EU figures are from Europe,
and the £3.65 billion shortfall figure under the NDP comes from the Minister for Finance," added Mr Hannick.