A gathering of concerned citizens will take place tonight (Monday, May 15) at the McWilliam Park Hotel in Claremorris, Co. Mayo, to discuss the issue of regional imbalance and rural decline. Organised by Sinn Féin MEP for Midlands North-West, Chris MacManus, the event will host a range of speakers including Rose Conway-Walsh TD, Cllr. Gerry Murray, Irish Natura Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA) President Vincent Roddy, and former CEO of the Western Development Commission (WDC) and Ireland West Airport, Liam Scollan.
MacManus has urged the public to attend the meeting and join the discussion on delivering change for the west of Ireland. Speaking ahead of the event, he said: “Delivering balanced regional development and standing up for the west has always been a key priority for Sinn Féin and I am delighted to be hosting this discussion on addressing regional imbalance and reversing rural decline in Claremorris. Over the past number of decades our region has suffered from neglect and a lack of opportunities for those of us who live here, particularly for our younger people. The EU’s downgrading of the northern and western region in recent years to being a lagging region and one ‘in transition’ highlights the urgency of addressing this problem.”
MacManus believes that the only way to reverse the decline is through “major investment in infrastructure and public services”. He has been calling for cohesion funding, state aid flexibility, the billion euro allocation of the RRF (Recovery and Resilience Facility), and the Brexit fund (Brexit Adjustment Reserve) to be used to offer a ready-made investment package to provide for this. He has also been hosting high-level meetings with European Commissioners to highlight the particular issue here in the west.
MacManus said that the current approach to regional development needs to change to ensure the west and northwest have a sustainable future. He is hopeful that the meeting tonight will be a step in the right direction for addressing this issue and bringing about positive change for the region.
The event is set to begin at 8:00p.m. and all members of the public are welcome to attend. It is an opportunity to voice concerns, share ideas, and work towards a brighter future for the west of Ireland.