Regional Economic Development

This Thursday 26th Mar, Sligo welcomes Minister Richard Bruton TD as part of a workshop aimed at developing regional enterprise strategies. Sligo is in the Border region, along with Donegal, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth. The workshop comes one week after the publication of the Nevin Institute Quarterly Economic Observer (Economic Observer ) which highlighted the following:

  • The Border region stagnated with zero net employment growth in 2014.
  • The size of the labour force declined in four of the eight regions in 2014, most prominently in the West (-9,200 persons) and Border (-8,400 persons).
  • Total Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) employment increased by 32,600 in 2014. However, FTE employment actually declined in 2014 in the West (Galway, Mayo, and Roscommon) and Border county regions.
  • Employment growth in Dublin and the Mid-East (the Dublin feeder counties of Kildare, Meath and Wicklow) is equivalent to 94.2% of net employment growth across the entire country in 2014.

The report observes the following: “It is not yet clear whether the regional trend represents A) a structural shift in the Irish economy towards the Greater Dublin Area with stagnation or decline persisting into the future in the western half of the country, or, alternatively, B) represents a temporary phenomenon whereby the economic recovery currently taking hold in Dublin gradually extends out to other regions.”
I think it’s the former, particularly when you take into account the CSO population projections (CSO Projections) to 2031 where the following is projected:

  • Under the M2F2 Traditional scenario all regions apart from Dublin and the Mid-East will lose population to internal migration. However, under the same scenario the population will grow in all regions due to natural increase. This is most noticeable in the Border region with projected births of 123,000 and a population increase of just 18,000, and the West which shows projected births of 97,000 and a population increase of 15,000.

In the absence of any strategy to address this issue, the current trends must be recognised as a policy in itself which is very worrying for us all in the North West of Ireland. There is some hope however….Minister Bruton is very clear where he says “Government itself cannot create jobs at regional level (or for that matter at national level) – it is businesses and entrepreneurs that create employment”. Representing over 200 Sligo Businesses employing over 6,000 people the Chamber will re-present our ideas on how to revitalise the economic development of the North West of Ireland. Hopefully, we’ll be listened to.