Dáil Éireann - Volume 548 - 14 February, 2002
Written Answers. - Western Development Commission.
Mr. G. Reynolds Mr. G. Reynolds
43. Mr. G. Reynolds asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development if he will report on the outcome of recent meetings with the Western Development Commission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3601/02]
Mr. Walsh Mr. Walsh
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (Mr. Walsh): I take it the Deputy is referring to the meeting which the Taoiseach and I had with the board of the Western Development Commission on 22 January last to discuss its “State of the West” report.
At the meeting, the Taoiseach outlined the steps being taken by the Government under the national development plan in the western region, which comprises the counties of Connacht along with Clare and Donegal. He emphasised that this Government is very committed to better regional balance and that financial provisions made under the NDP were 70% higher than those sought by the Western Development Commission when the NDP was being prepared.
In its report the WDC gave priority to the N5, the N16 and the N61. I explained that planning is continuing apace on the N5 and N16 and decisions in relation to major spending on them will only arise when the present phase of planning is complete. The Taoiseach and I informed the WDC that sources of funding for these works  would be kept under constant review in light of the national financial situation as it develops. As to the N61, this is a national secondary road in a CLÁR area and I have already had discussions on secondary roads in the CLÁR areas with the National Roads Authority. I promised to keep the WDC informed of developments.
In relation to rail infrastructure the Taoiseach explained that a strategic review of rail services, both existing and potential, is planned and that the western rail corridor will form part of this study. This has since been formally announced.
On the issue of telecommunications, the Taoiseach said that he was fully committed to the regional development of telecommunications infrastructure and recognised that good telecommunications could be a major tool of development in regional areas such as the west. It was outlined that work on the rollout of communications in the west in continuing.
The Taoiseach also reiterated the commitment of the Government to decentralisation and said that he fully recognised its potential in developing regions such as the west. He added that he expected to see substantial progress on decentralisation by the end of the year.
In relation to other issues raised, such as revitalising towns in the west, the Taoiseach said these will be examined as favourably and as quickly as possible by the relevant Departments and this is now under way.
Dáil Éireann 548 Written Answers. Western Development Commission.