Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan and Monaghan, Brendan Smith has welcomed a commitment from the Taoiseach on a focused study into the strengths and weaknesses and economic challenges facing the border region.
During questioning by Deputy Brendan Smith in the Dáil, the Taoiseach agreed with the Cavan and Monaghan TD’s call for a focused study, adding: “I will take up the Deputy’s point in respect of a more specific focus on the economy of the Border region. I will approach the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) with a view to perhaps having an addendum to the shared island work or in parallel with it to see if more work can be done in terms of the Border area. As the Deputy suggested, the shared island initiative will obviously deal with a number of issues in respect of the Border.”
Setting out his point, Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “We have many challenges in the Border region but there are also opportunities. We should have and need to develop new areas for economic and social development. I believe we need national and regional strategies.
“I often talk in this House about the need for infrastructural development in counties such as Cavan and Monaghan. We also have an enormous resource in social and educational infrastructure. We can cater for a growth in population because we have the voluntary and sporting infrastructure.
“In most cases, we also have the educational infrastructure. We may need expansion in areas such as roads and broadband but I believe that while we must tackle particular challenges, there are also opportunities that we must seize. We must do it in a regional, well thought-out and focused way.”
The Cavan and Monaghan TD added: “We need a joined-up approach to tackle these issues at central and local government levels. I believe that worthwhile analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the economy at local level should inform decision-making. Going forward, such detailed economic analysis should be conducted on a cross-Border and all-Ireland basis. It should run in a complementary manner to the worthwhile work of the shared island unit.”