A new study is calling for a policy of ‘positive discrimination’ in favour of the north, west and border regions.
It’s after a Northern and Western Regional Assembly study found what it describes as ‘startling levels of inequality in investment across key areas such as health, education, infrastructure and transport.
The Northern and Western Regional Assembly is one of three State bodies tasked with leading regional growth through European funds and planning.
For this study, John Daly, chief economist with the NWRA, analysed data over a 10-year period.
He found significant levels of regional UNDER-investment between 2008 to 2018.
His study report, entitled ‘A Region in Transition: The Way Forward’ says Ireland’s north, west and border regions face being left behind in a ‘two-speed economy.’
It found investment in health in the northern and western region is below the State average.
And funding per undergraduate when it comes to third-level infrastructure is significantly lower in the north and west compared to the national average.
The report says that although the region has much potential, there is need for an official policy of positive discrimination across numerous areas to address the growing deficit, speed up growth and stem decline.
The NWRA says the region’s under-performance economically in comparison to other regions is despite it having more sophisticated local economies specialising areas such as biotechnology, medical technology, precision engineering and artificial intelligence.
Significantly, the Northern and Western Regional Assembly also points out that the EU has downgraded the northern and western region from being considered ‘Developed’.
It has now applied a new designation of ‘In Transition’, which could make the region less of a priority when considering funding.