The Forgotten Region

The PPN reps on the Economic Development & Enterprise SPC are calling on the government to stop treating the South East as the forgotten region.

At the most recent meeting of the Economic Development & Enterprise SPC at County Hall (19 Sept 2017) they heard how the South East is the forgotten corner of Ireland when it comes to job creation and inward investment.

Presenting the latest South East Economic Monitor report Dr Ray Griffin and Dr Cormac O’Keefe, both of WIT, outlined how the region has been neglected for too long by the IDA and Enterprise Ireland.

They say that, while the region’s economy has seen some recovery, this is well below growth in other regions and well below the national average.

They cite “a pronounced deficit in … regional higher level education capacity, acute hospital services, IDA and Enterprise Ireland activity.” Net result? Fewer jobs, lower quality jobs, persistent brain drain, lack of “fair play” and a general knock-on effect on the region’s ability to move forward. They also say that poverty levels in the South East are higher than in other regions.

Resulting from the presentation by the two experts the three PPN (Public Participation Network) representatives on the Economic Development & Enterprise SPC are calling on the government to address the glaring structural weaknesses in the South East’s economy. Breda Meagher (Social Inclusion), Dan Kennedy (Community & Voluntary) and Senan O’Reilly (Environment) say that the reason the South East is falling behind other regions is down to a lack of state investment in the region and a failure to implement policy.

According to Sean McKeown of the South East Action Plan for Jobs the South East is not reaching its target for increasing employment. While other regions have managed to get unemployment to within 1% of the national average, the South East is 2.6% above it (national 6.7% v southeast 9.3%). McKeown also points out that the region has the highest percentage, nationally, of unskilled and semi-skilled workers.

IDA-supported jobs generally pay well. However, with 10% of the state’s population the South East has just 6.7% of all IDA jobs. While the region now has an IDA Regional Manager it is still lagging behind the others.

The PPN reps praise the efforts of Wexford County Council on its progressive stance to local economic development. In addressing the shortage of modern office space and good quality industrial units, and partnering with the private sector in developing technology and innovation hubs in the principle towns, the Council is, they say, creating the conditions for increasing graduate-level employment in Co Wexford. They also give the thumbs up to the Council’s Invest Wexford initiative which presents Wexford as a great place in which to both live and work. They go on to say, however, that despite the Council’s efforts, until the county, and the region, gets a fair share of state structural funding progress in county/regional economic development will continue to lag behind the national average.

The PPN reps are also unhappy with the lack of state investment in education and health in the South East. Wexford, and the other counties in the region, suffer from the effects of a persistent brain drain – over 2/3 of those seeking higher education leave the region. This carries with it an average cost per student p.a. of €11k. The vast majority do not return to work in the South East not least because of the lack of employment opportunities.

Educational opportunities for unemployed is behind that in other regions. Low educational attainment is linked to poor job quality which means lower disposable income. This has an obvious knock-on effect on the wealth of the region.

On a structural level the lack of capital investment in higher education in the South East is holding back economic growth in the region. Academics and business leaders alike are frustrated at the foot-dragging when it comes to developing a technological university in the South East. A university in the region would both keep a greater percent of students in the region, attract students from outside the region and give a welcome boost to the local economy.

Like education, healthcare in the region suffers from poor state investment. This can be seen in the below average spend on hospitals and healthcare in the South East.

The PPN reps say it’s time the government stopped treating the South East as the forgotten region. They want a proper regional commitment from both the IDA and Enterprise Ireland. They want a Government commitment to acknowledge the lack of investment in the region, and County Wexford in particular, and to work with local authorities and state agencies in putting in place a framework for sustainable development. This, they say, will involve increased capital investment across multiple sectors; creating the conditions for increased employment (and better quality jobs); giving more third level students an opportunity to stay in the region by establishing a technological university in the South East; bringing expenditure in the region on healthcare and social infrastructure in line with that in other regions. Above all they say they are simply looking for a fair share for the South East.

Breda, Dan and Senan are members of groups affiliated with County Wexford Public Participation Network. All three are members of the Economic Development & Enterprise Strategic Policy Committee. On this committee they represent the views of the three electoral colleges – Social Inclusion, Community & Development, Environment). SPCs bring together elected members (Councillors), and people actively working with social, economic, cultural and environmental bodies to review, and contribute to, the development of Council policies and services. SPCs prepare the groundwork for policies which are then decided on by the Local Authority.



Thanks for stopping by. Bet you are a civic-minded soul with an independent streak and a can-do attitude!

What’s this all about? We think we, as in the people of Wexford, can better prepare for the future and make much more of what we have by working together. Better infrastructure, better local economy, better environment and, ultimately, stronger communities. We all have a part to play.

FPW Presentation at PPN Meeting

I attended my first PPN meeting last night. It was a very worthwhile meeting which, under chairman John Carr, covered alot of ground. There were short introductory presentations on the work of WWETB (, Comhairle na nÓg ( and Future-Proof Wexford. This was followed by some very lively discussions on getting the most from your SPC, funding for local groups, resource-sharing, insurance for halls, local support for different addictions and much more.
I came away from the meeting determined to deliver one message to groups who are already members of PPN, and also to those groups thinking about joining: the most important initial in PPN is the middle “P”. Participation! Local groups can really benefit from the experience of coming together and sharing ideas. It is also the best place to learn about any supports available to groups whether these be financial, technical, educational, whatever. Ní neart go cur le chéile!

Why ‘voting with your dollar’ doesn’t work

Just when you thought you were making a difference by shopping ethically and being more brand aware, you may find that your money is ending up exactly where you did not want it to go.


The fall down the rabbit hole is a long one – and often very painful. Once you start to deconstruct reality around you, you tend to alienate a lot of people. They are perfectly adjusted and don’t need your philosophical musings, thank you very much.


Vote with your dollars is something you will hear well-meaning sustainability-leaning people say a lot. I used to. I still do, to an extent, but it took a long time to realize just how difficult that is.

The idea behind voting with your dollars is to put your money where your values lie. If you are against animal testing on cosmetics, you make sure to only buy cosmetics that are not tested on animals. Easy, right? Not so fast. Did you know that The Body Shop (the most famous worldwide company for natural and ethically produced beauty products) is owned by L’oreal? I didn’t, and…

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Optimism and the Apocalypse

2512086374_5da1610fc9_bWe stumbled upon a very good and thought-provoking article which will appeal to all future-proofers. Just as we are what we eat, maybe we like to think we – the few – are shining examples of our species at its caring, sharing best! In this article Sebastien Carew-Reid says: “we manipulate the truth in order to reduce personal responsibility and validate inaction”. And, yes, he is talking about every one of us. Mind you he does say that, at some point, albeit rather late in the day, we will get wake up smell the coffee: “When hope dies, action begins.” (Beyond Hope – Derrick Jensen)…/ali…/optimism-and-the-apocalypse

Community Garden Project in Wexford Town

Plans are underway to develop a mini Community Garden behind the Wexford Chamber of Commerce HQ on Hill Street, Wexford. This follows a meeting earlier in the year at which GIY (Grow It Yourself) and Wexford County Council announced details of a new Community Food Growing initiative in Co Wexford. This is one of the three chosen host sites.
The broad aims of the programme are for GIY to provide a support and mentoring framework to identified community groups, including Love Redmond Park and the Cornmarket Project, to enable the creation of community gardens in a number of locations in Wexford. The programme will act as a catalyst to establish thriving community gardens using the ‘Meitheal’ approach while, at the same time, bringing communities closer together.
While the Wexford Town project is relatively small it will hopefully serve to inspire other similar initiatives in the area.

What’s nature trying to do here?

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American academic Larry Korn gave a very entertaining and enlightening talk on the philosophy and practise of natural farming at a packed Wexford Library last Thursday. The talk was the last in the current series the library has been running with Future-Proof Wexford.

Oregon-based Larry Korn is an iconic and influential figure in the world of natural farming. His passion for the “methodless method” approach to farming developed back in the 1970s when he spent time living and working on the farm of innovative Japanese farmer Masanobu Fukuoka. The latter, who passed away in 2008, is now seen as being a pioneer and, dare one say it, ground-breaker (keep reading!), of the natural farming movement. Korn is translator and editor of the English-language edition of Mr. Fukuoka’s The One-Straw Revolution and editor of his later book, Sowing Seeds in the Desert.
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