A report published last week by Teagasc, ‘Indexing the Economic Strength of Rural Towns in Ireland’, has been described as a serious “wake up call” by councillor Harry Barrett. The report, which measured the economic strength of 302 small and medium sized towns in Ireland, ranked them in order, and found Castlebar ranked 248 out of 302 of the towns measured; the higher number indicating the weaker the town. Ballina came in at 287 out of 302 towns measures, while Westport featured at a much stronger 45 out of 302.
The report by Teagasc researchers, Cathal O’Donoghue and David Meredith, took into account a basket of measures to quantify the economic strength of each town. The underlying rate of unemployment, migration, and the strength of smaller towns in the area were factored into the index to give each town an overall ranking.
Barrett states: “This is a very serious wake up call for Castlebar and the local smaller towns and villages that depend on Castlebar. A ranking of 248 out of 302 is appalling and needs urgent attention by the serious political clout that we have in this town. No other town on the list has a Taoiseach, a leader of the Seanad, and the head of the Western Development Commission within its speed limits and it must be a cause of embarrassment to them that Castlebar is so far down the list. How bad must it get before our senior politicians act for Castlebar?”
He went on to say: “However, my real concern is for the 2,237 people on the live register in Castlebar alone, on the families in Castlebar that have lost children to emigration and on the family run businesses that have to shut their doors due to poor footfall on the street. I will pledge my campaign to maintain the pressure on this power base to act for the town, to act on the lack of investment and job opportunities coming to Castlebar, and to speak up for a better deal for family run businesses in this town. Castlebar needs 1000 jobs to change this, new money on our streets and no amount of reports or studies will act as a substitute.”