At the beginning of the early 1990’s five farmers from South Galway approached Bishop Casey and Bishop Kirby to express their extreme concern at the continued depopulation in rural areas: the falling numbers involved in agriculture and the absence of any alternative employment: the continuing emigration and the rundown of essential services in the locality.
As a result of this meeting the Developing the West Together initiative started and a
large meeting of interested parties from all over Connaught was held in Galway. Over the next few months 17 Core Groups were set up in Connaught and Donegal
with the purpose of facilitating input from individuals and groups into a report which
would examine the social and economic situation in the West of Ireland and identify
the needs of the region and propose solutions. In 1994 the report entitled Crusade for
Survival was launched by the then Taoiseach Albert Reynolds and it proposed the
establishment of both the Western Development Partnership Board and the voluntary
Council for the West and the appointment of a Minister with Special Responsibility
for the Region.
The Government response to the report a “Crusade for Survival” was to establish a Government Task Force, the establishment of the Western Development Partnership Board (WDPB) whose function was to draw up a plan for the economic and social regeneration of the West of Ireland and the appointment of a Minister for Western Development, Mr Donal Carey. The statutory body the Western Development Commission replaced the (WDPB) and the response from the Western Bishops was to establish the Council for the West in 1994.
Objectives of the Council for the West
To achieve our core objective of creating the social and economic environment where people have a choice to live and work in Western areas in vibrant and sustainable communities – the Council for the West will:
- Influence regional policy by producing position papers, making submissions and direct representation to Government and other relevant agencies
- Monitor and highlight the socio-economic disparities in the region
- Continue to monitor, highlight and influence the provision of essential infrastructure to make this region competitive
- Promote balanced regional development
- Co-operate and link with other organisations involved in regional development
- Promote rural regeneration taking particular account of the role of agriculture and natural resources