Economic inequalities in border areas ‘must be addressed’

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Thursday, November 19th, 2015
Sinn Féin MLA Megan Fearon has said any steps to tackle regional economic imbalance should address inequalities in border areas. fearon14The South Armagh representative was speaking in the Assembly as she proposed a motion calling for action to be taken on unequal investment in parts of the north. “Regional economic imbalances are particularly evident west of the Bann, in north and west Belfast and along the border area,” she told Newry Times. “A historic lack of investment and the application of structured discrimination, has ensured the border region suffers higher levels of unemployment, emigration, high levels of deprivation and stunted economic growth. “I cannot stress enough how important it is to ensure that broadband is available to everyone – it’s crazy that a local construction firm in my area takes hours to download a simple tender document due to poor connection. Certain parts of South Armagh need serious investment to improve broadband provision and address not-spots,” the local MLA insisted. “People and businesses along the border face a very unique set of circumstances and so part of the response must be tailored to those needs. We must look to cross-border solutions to dealing with these issues and the minister should give serious consideration to the development of a border development zone. “Initiatives that focus specifically on the disadvantaged area are important but we mustn’t ignore the wider economy which is what actually produces and reproduces patterns of inequality. We need to focus on structural change that complements these targeted initiatives. Fearon added, “We need fiscal powers so that we can deliver a transformation in economic policy and performance. A more progressive tax system, a living wage for all and a focus on economic inequality between rich and poor will go a long way to addressing regional imbalances.”
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