The Western Development Commission, WDC, was established on a statutory footing in 1999 under the Western Development Commission Act 1998. The main aim of the commission is to promote, foster and encourage economic and social development in the western region, covering the counties of Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo, Mayo, Roscommon, Galway and Clare.
A Programme for a Partnership Government includes a commitment to reinforce the role of the WDC. This has been done in a number of ways. For example, the commission participates on a number of groups which oversee the progress of key Government initiatives. These include the monitoring committee for the Action Plan for Rural Development, the implementation committees for a number of regional action plans for jobs, and the Atlantic economic corridor task force which I chair.
As the Deputy may be aware, a new chair and board were appointed to the WDC by the Minister, Deputy Michael Ring, last year. The board is currently developing a new five-year strategy for the commission.
My Department has regular engagement with the chair and the chief executive of the WDC with a view to strengthening the organisation’s role in the delivery of Government objectives related to regional development. I am pleased to report that the Minister, Deputy Ring, secured an additional €500,000 in the 2019 budget process to support the WDC. This funding will enable it to maximise the potential of the western investment fund to support small and medium enterprises in the area under its remit, and also to provide a co-ordinating role in relation to the Atlantic economic corridor initiative.
I have been assigned responsibility for the WDC by the Minister, Deputy Ring, and I look forward to working with the board and the chief executive to support the development of the western region and the wider Atlantic economic corridor area.