[Sinn Fein]

1 November 2002

Ferris criticises National Development Plan shortfall

The Sinn Fein spokesperson on Rural Development, Martin Ferris TD, has claimed that the failure to draw down the full amount of funding available under the NDP is an indictment of the Governments lack of commitment to balanced regional development. Deputy Ferris stated : "When the National Development Plan was published, we were assured that the massive amount of money available under its terms would be used to promote job creation and ensure a better balance of job creation between the regions. It is now apparent that this is not taking place. Figures supplied to me by the Tanaiste show that not only has the rate of overall job creation slowed dramatically, but that the commitment to ensure that 50% of green field jobs be located in the Border Midland Western region is unlikely to be met. "While investment in many areas is grossly under target, there has been massive inflation in the area of road building. In other words, the money is not being spent where it will have the greatest benefit in terms of properly balanced development, particularly in disadvantaged rural areas. "It is clear that much of the responsibility for this failure lie with the regional assemblies that were set up to monitor the implementation of the Plan. In order for this to be rectified it is essential that the two assemblies are made more democratically accountable. That can only take place if the assemblies are opened up to wider participation both by local elected representatives and by the local community groups.. That is not achieved under the current system whereby two Councillors from each County Council along with minimal representation from the community and social partners are selected to make up the two bodies"

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