[Sinn Fein]

16 August 2001

Border region still marginalised - O Caolain

Speaking at the Parnell Summer School at Avondale, County Wicklow this morning, Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghin O Caolain said that despite the peace process and the `Celtic Tiger' the Border region was still marginalised and much more must be done to spread the benefits of economic growth through the regions and across Irish society where poverty persists. He said:

``In Counties Cavan and Monaghan we have higher than average rates of unemployment, very little inward investment, inadequate infrastructure with minimal public transport, insufficient communications networks, low participation in third level education and significant pockets of rural and urban poverty. But we are not unique. There are similar problems in all the Border counties.

``I acknowledge without hesitation that there have been massive improvements in recent years and these are continuing. But we have a very long way to go. And we need to get it right. Now that the fruits of the unprecedented economic upturn of the past number of years are available we must ensure that they are used to best effect. The record of governments in both jurisdictions in this regard has been bad. This is because they have not tackled the deep structural inequalities in our economy and in our society.  

``In order to tackle these inequalities and to build our economy on sure foundations I believe it is essential that we approach these problems on an all-Ireland basis. There is I believe widespread acceptance of the logic of an island economy. That was illustrated during the foot and mouth crisis when it was patently obvious that in terms not just of animal health but of agriculture in general Ireland is an island economy and ought to be developed as such.''

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