Does Connaught have a future?

mollox

Active member
Joined
May 14, 2007
Messages
202
Does the West, particularly Connaught, have a viable future?

A number of planning advocates on p.ie have defined “balanced regional development” as requiring that, ultimately, each distinct region will be financially self-sufficient.

Consequently, any exercise to define such a “region” should first require a feasibility study to establish that it is indeed capable of achieving self-sustainability in the medium/longer term.

Connaught: The 5 counties of Connaught have a combined population of 503k and cover an area of 6,763 sq miles. That’s a population density of just 74 persons per sq mile.

There are only 4 population centres with 10k or more inhabitants - Galway City (72k) , Sligo (18k), Castle bar (11k) and Ballina (10k). When these population centres are stripped out, the population density drops to c. 60 per sq mile.
This suggests that there are c. 400k inhabitants spread over a wide geographical area in relatively small towns, villages and individual rural homesteads. Counties Galway and Mayo are, after Co Cork, respectively the 2nd and 3rd largest counties by area in the Republic.

This raises the question about the long-term economic viability of a region such as Connaught funding its own infrastructural maintenance & developments, public transport, health & education facilities, policing etc. without significant changes to the current scattered nature of the distribution of its population, or measures to substantially increase that population.

For the purposes of comparison:
Other West Coast Counties (Donegal, Clare, Limerick & Kerry) have a combined population of 581k and cover 5,954 sq miles. That’s a population density of 98 per sq mile.

Dublin & its satellite counties (Wicklow, Kildare, Meath & Louth) have a combined population of 1.761k and cover 3,012 sq miles. That’s a population density of 585 inhabitants per sq mile.

Clearly, any infrastructural investment proposal, measured on a “per capita” cost/benefit basis is unlikely to produce a winning business case in Connaught, or the rest of the Western seaboard, when forced to compete for national funding with projects in the more densely populated parts of the country. Likewise, with such low population density, the cost per head of a region such as Connaught funding major developments itself would probably be prohibitive.

Given that you cannot force business to set-up in the West, or force people to migrate there, what is the likelihood that the region can achieve economic self-sufficiency in the medium/long-term?

If that is not a viable proposition, should we begin a long-term process to actively depopulate the West, perhaps with the exception of a small number of existing centres e.g. Galway & Sligo? Would such a proposal ever gain political support in Ireland?

NB: This isn’t intended to be either anti-West or anti-Dublin in sentiment. Rather it is intended to challenge both the pro-West (sometimes anti-Dublin/East) advocates and the anti-West “let them fund it themselves” brigade to contemplate some of the financial, social and political considerations.
 


Joined
Mar 6, 2007
Messages
49
To hell or to Leinster?

Connacht will manage it if the will is there both nationally and locally for it to survive. You have raised some valuable points there and you`re probably right about the longterm vialibility of certain isolated villages but at the same time you won`t ever be able to coerce people to leave where they were born.
 

alonso

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 17, 2006
Messages
2,550
Interesting post mollox. It depends on the region's raison d'etre. It won't ever be the economic engine of the island, but it has the potential to look after itself if the major centres are consolidated, as we discussed on the Knock thread. As you suggested " significant changes to the current scattered nature of the distribution of its population, or measures to substantially increase that population" are required. If the growth in the West's population was focussed into these centres, then there is no reason that infrastructural investments will not deliver value for money.
 

Ard-Taoiseach

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 11, 2007
Messages
746
Sonny O'Neill said:
mollox said:
Does the West, particularly Connaught, have a viable future?
Connaught was ****ked a long time ago. Connacht might still have a future. :evil:
Aye, yer right thair me Oolster heid! Connacht it is!
 

Fionn_McCool

Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2007
Messages
80
mollox said:
A number of planning advocates on p.ie have defined “balanced regional development” as requiring that, ultimately, each distinct region will be financially self-sufficient.
I have not detected any real groundswell of support for "regionalism" in Ireland. It seems like a recipe for the ultimate disintegration of the state.

On the continent parties like the Lega Nord in Italy and the Christian Social Union of Bavaria also advocate some form of separation for their own regions, but they have not been very successful in the polls. I predict that any political party stupid enough to advocate regionalism in Ireland would quickly suffer the same fate as the PDs. .

The notion that "we begin a long-term process to actively depopulate the West" (ie reverse Cromwellianism) is quite frankly ludicrous and Stalinist.
 

ergo

Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2006
Messages
41
Mollox

I wasn't aware that there was some national plan that each province be selfsufficient.

Would that mean that Dublin would forget about taking a water supply from the Shannon or any of it's lakes?

Passport controls to prevent stag and hen parties from Dublin importing Temple Bar vomiting habits to the pristine streets of our tourist resorts?

On the population spread, there are many towns in Connaught under 10K population with relatively substantial industrial employment.
 

ergo

Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2006
Messages
41
and - don't tell Shell - when the provincial government is set up, we will wait until Shell get the gas ashore and then raise tax on the sale of it to the rest of Europe and live happily ever after.
 

mollox

Active member
Joined
May 14, 2007
Messages
202
Sonny O'Neill said:
mollox said:
Does the West, particularly Connaught, have a viable future?
Connaught was ****ked a long time ago. Connacht might still have a future. :evil:
It gets worse! I still call stations by their proper names e.g. Amiens St, Kingsbridge, Westland Row etc.. ;)
 

Ard-Taoiseach

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 11, 2007
Messages
746
mollox said:
Sonny O'Neill said:
mollox said:
Does the West, particularly Connaught, have a viable future?
Connaught was ****ked a long time ago. Connacht might still have a future. :evil:
It gets worse! I still call stations by their proper names e.g. Amiens St, Kingsbridge, Westland Row etc.. ;)
West Brit traitor!
 

mollox

Active member
Joined
May 14, 2007
Messages
202
alonso said:
Interesting post mollox. It depends on the region's raison d'etre. It won't ever be the economic engine of the island, but it has the potential to look after itself if the major centres are consolidated, as we discussed on the Knock thread. As you suggested " significant changes to the current scattered nature of the distribution of its population, or measures to substantially increase that population" are required. If the growth in the West's population was focussed into these centres, then there is no reason that infrastructural investments will not deliver value for money.
Just to clarify - rather than “suggesting” this, I was making the point that this was a natural outcome if your, and Schuhart’s, “balanced regional development” approach has, as a prerequisite, a requirement that all such regions be ultimately self-financing.

Alonso, going back to my original post, can I ask you to address the following hypothesis, please?

The Regional feasibility study has been completed and finds that the only existing area of Connaught that has a viable financial future is a band approx. 20-30 miles wide, spanning either side of the existing road and rail infrastructure between Athlone & Galway. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say Co Galway and the southern end of Co Roscommon which falls within the catchment area of Athlone.

This economic Galway/Roscommon strip area can be part of a larger viable Region, either linked to the midlands, or alternatively linked with Limerick and Cork to make a strong South-West Region (ref. Dr Ed Walsh).

However, attempting to provide the services and infrastructure to support the low density, relatively poor counties of Mayo, North Roscommon, Sligo & Leitrim drags Galway, and it’s potential new regional partners, below breakeven in every economic scenario modelled.

Consequently, the recommendation is that Mayo, Sligo etc. be designated a National Park.
All future development there, commercial and residential, to be banned. All state agencies instructed not to place any incoming enterprises in these areas, even in existing empty industrial units. All state aid/grants etc for business start-ups no longer apply in the National Park. Depts of Education, Health etc instructed to limit future investment there to minimum maintenance level possible. Etc etc etc.

Now - the questions:
1. Do you think that such an outcome would be politically viable?
2. Do you think it would be acceptable to the population of the country at large?
 

alonso

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 17, 2006
Messages
2,550
Mollox, no-one ever advocated such lunacy, unless I missed Schuhart when he/she was on pills. The answers are in the posts you've referred to. No-one ever, not I anyway, mentioned self financing. We referred to self-sufficiency in the planning sense - ie all jobs and services within moderately easy reach of the residential population (from IT offices to post offices). Self financing implies no more Central Government investment, or a scenario where every region brought in more revenue than it spent or somethin. That's very different to the self-sufficient model I referred to

The first line of your hypothesis is garbage for a start. No 30 km wide band would ever be viable. It would be the towns at either end. So that's the end of that conversation.

Allow me to repost:

"The 1968 Buchanan Report was a significant report on the regional dimension to economic planning which had largely been ignored. The report, prepared by Colin Buchanan and Partners, investigated and recommended on the social and economic sustainability of industry in the regions. The reports recommended a limited number of development centres throughout Ireland, which would have a minimum self-sustaining size. This became quite controversial as there were fewer than a dozen of such places recommended. In the end local politics and patronage won out and the report was largely dropped with industry being ineffectively dispersed as local need arose."

Self sustaining/Self Sufficient means serving their people, negating the need to travel long distances to places of work, recreation, education, helathcare etc etc. It requires concentration into development centres, such as todays cancer care announcemnt - a step in the right direction.
 

mollox

Active member
Joined
May 14, 2007
Messages
202
alonso said:
Mollox, no-one ever advocated such lunacy, unless I missed Schuhart when he/she was on pills.
schuhart said:
The logic of a permanent subsidy works for places like island communities or Gaeltacht areas, and, say, for people with disabilities, for reasons we hardly need to go into unless someone really wants to get silly. But the idea that a large chunk of the State’s population would benefit in perpetuity from a subsidy from the rest simply because of where they live is just not credible. The ultimate objective of regional policy must, indeed, be to create regions that are self-sustaining. That’s not to say they’ll be self-sustaining tomorrow, or that supports should be removed today. But, using that blunt language, “balanced regional development” certainly means “no more handouts eventually”.
The above Schuhart quote is from the Knock thread. It certainly suggests that "sponsorship" of infrastructural investment etc would be curtailed?
 

alonso

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 17, 2006
Messages
2,550
Yeh handouts, subsidies, tax breaks etc etc will be curtailed. That does not mean central government investment is halted. I think, not to speak for him, Schuhart was referring to the plethora of "schemes" and "programmes", that are aimed specifically to keep failed enterprises going in places that cannot sustain them. Compare these to the IFSC, an extreme example admittedly, whereby tax breaks kickstart an area/region/industry and then can be rowed back on once established.

A half century of backward parish pump politics, in direct contravention to the 1968 recommendations quoted above, exacerbated by the boom, have led to the West of Ireland and the Border region existing on a life-support machine. I believe this type of politics should cease, and i will never veer from that line...
 

CookieMonster

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 19, 2005
Messages
33,861
Ard-Taoiseach said:
God, this thread has come alive all of a sudden!
Unlike the region, presumably.
 

Schuhart

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 24, 2006
Messages
4,831
alonso said:
I think, not to speak for him, Schuhart was referring to the plethora of "schemes" and "programmes", that are aimed specifically to keep failed enterprises going in places that cannot sustain them.
That's pretty much it. I was also drawing attention to how, say, a policy of ongoing permanent support for Gaeltachts can find justification. I'm not sure the West generally has a coherent claim that puts it in the same bracket.

On the core question, its probably not politically feasible to adopt a policy of urbanisation. The proof of the pudding is the eating - the national spatial strategy specified far more hubs and gateways than would be justified by their research, but even sticking to that wasn't politically possible. The outcome of that is what we see - a population structure that moves East without much planning for its arrival.

Never mind whether its politically feasible to actively depopulate the West, as clearly it isn't. That said, the politics of Western development advocacy will ultimately achieve this result anyway. But is it even politically feasible to plan for services where people can be predicted to end up living?
 


New Threads

Most Replies

Top