Sligo-Leitrim General Election candidate Marc Mac Sharry has branded the regional action plan for jobs launched for the North-West and North-East today as “under ambitious”.

Senator Mac Sharry said: “I would have expected a bold and radical plan for the region given that it has historically lagged behind. But instead Fine Gael and Labour have proved yet again that they are utterly incapable of taking a strategic approach to the north west region.”

“I’m meeting businesses every week that are under huge pressure with high rates, high charges and mounting bills. They’re burdened by red tape, centralised bureaucracy from Dublin and still largely cut-off from the vital credit lines needed to grow and strengthen their businesses. There is nothing of real substance in today’s plan to tackle any of this.

“I think it is wrong for the Government to bundle the North-East in with the North-West region in a jobs plan like this. We all know towns like Dundalk have become satellites to Dublin with huge investment in FDI.

“Less than a fifth of the IDA budget is spent outside of the Dublin region. While Dublin’s out turn accounts for some 46% of GNP. This is as unsustainable for Dublin as it is unfair to Sligo Donegal Leitrim and Cavan.

“This Government has deliberately driven a two-tier, Dublin-focussed recovery that has ignored the regions, particularly the North-West.

“A strategic approach must be taken to this region. Provide us with the resources to perform to our potential with the appropriate infrastructure in motorway, broadband and education through the designation of the North-West university of technology as a matter of urgency.  In addition rebalance the IDA budget to account for better grant indications for FDI to locate within the region.  If this happens we can thrive and make a lasting and sustainable contribution to the national effort.

“50% of the new jobs created in the 12 months to the end of September were created in Dublin, 16% in Kerry and Cork and just 8% in the border region where most was in the north east.

“There hasn’t been a word out of Government about regional Ireland for 5 years other than the derisory 100m for the entire country to offset the effects of the recession. What an insult. Now that the election draws near we have photo shoots and glossy brochures repackaging what’s already there but no strategic approach with tangible investment. The North-West needs a jobs advocate in the next Dáil – someone who will champion the region and drive State agencies to promote it at every available opportunity.

“There were 16 IDA visits across Sligo, Donegal, Leitrim and Cavan in 2014 while there were 205 in Dublin. Dublin got almost 60% of the pitches from IDA.  This is the balance Fine Gael & Labour promote.”