7th October 2008

West Council says hands off WDC

The Council for the West has rejected as ‘out-of-order’ any government moves to subsume the Western Development Commission into Enterprise Ireland.

The Western Development Commission (WDC) was set up in 1997 after a sustained campaign in the west to have a body established to specifically promote the economic and social development of the region. It is responsible for the management of the 32 million euro Western Investment Fund.

The WDC has been asked to comment on the feasibility and impact of being taken in under the umbrella of Enterprise Ireland.

Reacting to what is viewed as a merger not in the best interests of the west region; Council for the West Chairman Sean Hannick said his Council was aghast at any such moves.

“Over many years interests in the West campaigned with great passion and with forceful argument to have a clearly focussed body set up by government to truly represent the interests of the region. We did so because the existing agencies were not working for the west, and were shown to be not up to the challenge then confronting the region.

“The WDC is a small, efficient agency with a small budget but with a clear and concise vision of what is needed for the region. To propose to take it away now after just twelve years is not acceptable given the challenges the region is facing in the current recession. We believe the WDC should have a life of at least 20 years to get the ship turned in the right direction and get things moving here,” he said.

Mr Hannick said it was just not acceptable to pull the steps from beneath the invaluable work the WDC was doing.

“If this is an exercise in kite-flying then it should be called off. After all the effort that went into securing government recognition for an agency like the WDC it beggars belief that it should be blunted by being subsumed into a National Agency,” he added.

The Council for the West chairman said the region needed the WDC now more than ever before with jobs being lost on all fronts and emigration again rearing its ugly head in the region.

“The West region has gone through terrible times whenever the economy of the country has gone into a downturn, so it would be foolhardy to dismantle an agency as important as the WDC at this critical juncture,” he added.

The Council for the West is to seek urgent talks with its Oireachtas Liaision Group, with relevant Ministers and other Oireachtas members.  The Council for the West has called specifically on Tanaiste Mary Coughlan and Minister Eamon O’Cuiv to stand up for an agency that has the potential and the expertise to make a meaningful long-term contribution to the region of Connacht, Clare and Donegal.

*Ends*

Note to Editors:

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.

Contact Points:

Public Relations Officer:   Terry Reilly 086 8109518 / 096 21603 / email: terryreilly@eircom.net

Co-ordinator:                     Caroline Wilson, Tel: 096 32975 / email: cftwest@iol.ie


Spokepersons:

Sean Hannick:             087 2564824

Bishop Jones:              087 2206657

Seamus Caulfield:        086 344 0494