What’s happening in our regional economies? Growth and change in Regional GVA.

In the last blog post on this subject, Leprechauns in Invisible Regions, the very significant changes in GVA and GDP[1] at a regional level between 2014 and 2015 were discussed.  These largely applied in manufacturing, with a national growth in GVA that sector of 134%.  As mentioned in that post, some regional data for the NUTS3 regions of Dublin and the South West was suppressed by the CSO to preserve confidentiality.  The focus of this post, therefore, is on changes in other NUTS 3 regions.  Of course Dublin and the South West are the largest economic regions but it is useful to consider the changing situation in regions less affected by the level shift in GVA in 2015 (and not affected by the confidentiality issue), and to examine in more detail the other GVA data published by the CSO in its annual County Incomes and Regional GDP publication.

The change in GVA per person between 2014 and 2015 is shown in Figure 1.  Growth in the State as a whole (which includes the South West and Dublin regions) was most significant (37%), but there was a 30% increase in GVA per person in the Mid West region and a 30% increase in the South East region.  Growth in GVA in those years was more modest in the Midland region (17%) and the West region (9%), while it was only 5% in the Border region.

Figure 1: Regional GVA per person at Basic Prices, 2014 and 2015 

a Data for 2015 for Dublin and South West regions suppressed for reasons of confidentiality

Source: CSO, 2018, County Incomes and Regional GDP, 2015, Table 9c GVA per person at Basic Prices, 2007 to 2016

Looking at changes over a longer period Figure 2 shows GVA per person in the NUTS 3 regions since 2007[2].  GVA per person was significantly higher in the Dublin and South West regions between 2007 and 2014.  There has been some change in relativities among regions since 2007 with the Midland region, which had lowest GVA per person in 2007, higher than the Border region in 2015 (22,320 in the Midland region compared to 19,060 per person in the Border region in 2015).  GVA in the West grew more rapidly than elsewhere in 2011 and 2012 but since that period GVA in the West has again fallen behind that in the Mid East[3] and the South East and the gap between them has widened.

Figure 2: Regional GVA per person at Basic Prices, 2007 and 2016 

a Data for 2015 and 2016 for Dublin and South West regions suppressed for reasons of confidentiality

b Preliminary results for 2016

Source: CSO, 2018, County Incomes and Regional GDP, 2015, Table 9c GVA per person at Basic Prices, 2007 to 2016

As has been discussed, some of the regions showed very significant growth between 2014 and 2015 but, as can be seen in Figure 2, there was no significant increase in GVA between 2015 and 2016 in any region for which data is available.

Disparities within the State

An index of how GVA in the regions compared to that in the State between 2007 and 2016 (Figure 3) gives a useful picture of widening regional disparity.  None of the regions for which data is available were above the State average during that period.  The Border region had an index of only 36.3 in 2015.  In that year the Midland region was only 42.5% of the State while the West was 56.0.  In contrast in 2007 the Border index was 68.1, the Midland index was 65.5, and the West was 71.3.  The Mid West, which had consistently highest index of GVA for regions where data was available, was 72.6% of the State average in 2016.

Figure 3: Index of GVA for NUTS 3 Regions, 2007-2016, State=100

a Data for 2015 and 2016 for Dublin and South West regions suppressed for reasons of confidentiality

b Preliminary results for 2016

Source: CSO, 2018, County Incomes and Regional GDP, 2015, Table 10 Indices of GVA per person at Basic Prices, 2007 to 2016 (State = 100)

All of the regions for which data is available have lower indices of GVA relative to the State in 2016 compared to 2007.  For example, the West was 71.3 in 2007 and 56.0 in 2016, and the Border was 68.1 in 2007 and 37.1 in 2016.  This indicates the very significant widening of disparities in GVA between these regions and GVA in the State which is influenced by the more rapidly growing Dublin and South West regions.


EU comparison

It is also interesting to look at changes in GVA over time relative to an index of regional GVA in the EU.  This shows how Irish regions are faring compared to the rest of the EU.  It is also important as the relative size of regional GVA per person impacts on the level and type of EU structure funding available to a region.  Regions where GDP per capita is less than 75% of the EU average are designated ‘convergence regions’ (86 regions between 2014 and 2020) and those with GDP per capita above 75% of the EU average are seen as developed regions (186 NUTS 2 regions).

Looking at the NUTS 2 regions in Ireland the changes relative to the EU average are very stark, particularly since 2015 (Figure 4).  In 2007 the S&E region was 163.8% of the EU average and it declined to 144.2% in 2009, there followed by steady grown to 2014, when it reached 153.2%, still below that in 2007.  The level shift in GVA in 2015 meant the S&E region increased dramatically to 213% of the EU average in 2015.  In contrast in 2007 GVA in the BMW region was at the EU average (100.9) but it declined relative to the EU average until 2014 (77.1%) with only slow growth for 2015 and 2016 (it is estimated at 80.1% of the EU average in 2016), compared to 213% in the S&E region.

Figure 4: Index of GVA for BMW and S&E regions (NUTS 2), 2007-2016, EU28=100

b Preliminary results for 2016

Source: CSO, 2018, County Incomes and Regional GDP, 2015, Table 11   Indices of GVA per person at Basic Prices, 2007 to 2016 (EU28 = 100)

There is more fluctuation in GVA relative to the EU28 when we look at NUTS 3 regions (Figure 5).  Even without data for the regions with the highest GVA (Dublin and the South West) the other regions in the S&E NUTS 2 region have all had higher GVA than the EU average since 2014.  The Mid West region consistently had GVA higher than the EU average since 2007, despite some decline, while the South East and the Mid East were below the EU average between 2009 and 2014).

Figure 5: Index of GVA for NUTS 3 regions, 2007-2016, EU28=100

b Preliminary results for 2016

Source: CSO, 2018, County Incomes and Regional GDP, 2015, Table 11   Indices of GVA per person at Basic Prices, 2007 to 2016 (EU28 = 100)


In contrast, the three regions which make up the BMW were all at or below the EU average in 2015 and 2016, and the Border and Midland regions have never been above the EU 28 average.  The Border is currently only 65.7% of the EU average (2016) while the Midlands is 76.2%.  GVA in the West region has shown significant fluctuation, and was particularly strong in 2011 and 2012 (peaking at 108.8% of the EU average) but has since fallen back, though it is currently very close to the EU average (99.2%).



It is also interesting to look at changes in productivity in recent years (Figure 6).  There was a dramatic increase of 42% in productivity (GVA per person at work) in the State between 2014 and 2016 (this includes the figures for the South West and Dublin regions), and there were also significant increases in the Mid East (38%), Mid West (34%) and South East (40%) regions.  While increases in productivity were much smaller in the Border (9%), Midland (20%) and West (15%) all regions did show productivity growth.

Figure 6: GVA per person at work 2014-2016 (NUTS 3)

Source: CSO, 2018, County Incomes and Regional GDP, 2015,Table 13  GVA at Basic Prices, population and persons at work for each region 2015


Regional Productivity is dependent on a number of factors, including the types of economic activities being undertaken in the regions so it is useful to look more closely at the data for this.

Economic Sectors

There is significant variation in the importance of different sectors in each region (Figure 7).  Looking at Industry, for example, the West region has the highest proportion of GVA from this sector (of the regions for which data is available) at 41.5% compared to 38.8% for the State as a whole.  There is substantial variation in the contribution of Professional, Scientific and Technical services to GVA (13.6% in the Mid East region and 13.4% in the South East compared to 5.3% in the Midland region and 6.2% in West region).  Public Administration and Defence makes a very significant contribution to GVA in the Border (27.9%) and Midland region (26.8%) but only accounts for 11.9% of GVA in the State as a whole.

Figure 7: Gross Value Added by Sector 2015

Source: Source: CSO, 2018, County Incomes and Regional GDP, 2015,Table 9d   Gross Value Added by Sector 2015


The relative importance of the three main branches of economic activity in the Border, Midland and West Regions is shown in Figure 8.  Manufacturing, Building and Construction accounts for almost half (46%) of GVA in the West region but only 24% in the Border and 32% in the Midland regions.  In contrast services account for 65% of the Midland GVA, and 73% of GVA in the Border region and 52% in the West region.  For the State as a whole Manufacturing, Building and Construction accounts for 41% of GVA and Services account for 58%.

Figure 8: GVA in Border Midland and West regions by branch, 2015

Source: Source: CSO, 2018, County Incomes and Regional GDP, 2015, Table 15   GVA at Basic Prices classified by region and branch, 2014 and 2015


Looking at changes in GVA between 2014 and 2015 for each branch of the economy and, as would have been expected, there were significant changes in GVA from Manufacturing, Building and Construction in most regions between 2014 and 2015, with a 105% increase in the State, a 76 % increase in the South East, and a 75 % increase in the Mid West.  In the West, however the increase in GVA in this branch was only 20% and again, very significantly (and giving rise to the low growth in GVA) in the Border it was only 3%.

Figure 9: Changes in regional GVA by branch between 2014 and 2015


Source: Source: CSO, 2018, County Incomes and Regional GDP, 2015, Table 15   GVA at Basic Prices classified by region and branch, 2014 and 2015


There were also changes of note in the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing sector (which accounts for a relatively small amount of GVA).  There was a decrease in GVA from this sector of 7% in the State between 2014 and 2015 and a significant decrease of more than 20% in the South West and 14% in the Border region and the Mid West region.  GVA from services grew in all regions, but only by 1% in the West region (compared to 11% in the State).



While there are difficulties with using GVA and GDP as measures of regional development (see here and here) it is nonetheless a very important indicator of regional economic activity and essential to our understanding of the changes taking place in Irish regions.    However, in order to understand regional growth and change it is important to use GVA in combination with other data such as that on employment, enterprise activity, income, wealth and consumption.



Helen McHenry


[1] GDP is Gross Domestic Product, GDP and GVA are the same concept i.e. they measure the value of the goods and services (or part thereof) which are produced within a region or country. GDP is valued at market prices and hence includes taxes charged and excludes the value of subsidies provided. GVA at basic prices on the other hand excludes product taxes and includes product subsidies. See background notes .

[2] Data for the South West and Dublin Regions is not available for 2015 and 2016

[3] In previous posts on GVA the Mid East has been considered with Dublin (see this post for example) as much of the GVA in the Dublin region is produced by commuters from the Mid East (and other regions) and GVA per person for the Dublin region does not reflect this.  However, as data for the Dublin region is not available Mid East data is included here.

New research on Economic & Social Impact of the West of Ireland creative sector

National University of Ireland, Galway has recently published a series of reports ‘Economic & Social Impact Assessment’ of the creative sector in five different regions across Europe’s Northern Edge including the West of Ireland.  The five reports are available to download here:

Funded through the EU Northern Periphery & Arctic (NPA) Programme co-funded ‘a creative momentum project’, the research was conducted by Dr Patrick Collins, Dr Aisling Murtagh and Dr Ben Breen of NUIG’s Whitaker Institute and Discipline of Geography. The WDC is lead partner for this transnational project.

Silvia Guglielmini, WDC; Aisling Murtagh, NUIG; Pat Collins, NUIG; Pauline White, WDC; Leo Scarff; Leo Scarff Design at the launch of the assessment report. Photo Credit: Brad Anderson, Photo One Photography

As the report states, assessing the value of the creative sector (defined in the report as Advertising, Animation, Architecture, Craft, Cultural Facilities, Design, Film, Games, IT and Computer Services, Marketing, Music, Performing Arts, Photography, Publishing, Radio, Software, TV and Visual Arts) is a complex task.

Combining existing knowledge and official statistics, with survey data (152 respondents made some reply to the online survey) and in-depth interviews with nine creative sector entrepreneurs from the region, the impact assessment presents key economic estimates but also goes beyond traditional economic measures to encompass a wider socio-economic focus.

Economic Impacts


Total direct sales of the creative sector in the Western Region amounted to €486.2 million in 2016. Making use of a multiplier, the researchers derived a total value of the sector to the Western Region of €729.2 million.

Average company sales differ across sub-sectors. The sub-sector which the researchers designate as ‘creative industries’ (Media/Advertising, Architecture/Design, R&D, Professional Services, Software & App Development) reports average sales close to twice that of enterprises in the ‘craft industries’ (Traditional Craft, Print & Recorded Media Production, Electronic Manufacturing, Other Manufacturing) and ‘cultural industries’ (Performing Arts & Education, Publishing, Film & TV).


46% of survey respondents derived some portion of their sales from exports. Across the sector this accounted for 18% of direct sales or €87.4 million. Smaller and younger companies were least likely to export their produce.

Length of establishment

The sub-sector which the researchers designate as ‘creative industries’ is the youngest sub-sector with more than half of operations surveyed less than five years old and close to 10% had been in existence for less than one year.


The analysis found that the overall creative sector in the Western Region consists of a large number of small and micro enterprises with an average of 2.6 employees per firm.

Official statistics from the CSO indicate that a total of 12,871 people were employed in the sector in the Western Region in 2015. The largest sub-sector was ‘creative industries’ (57.3%, 7,380) followed by ‘cultural industries’ (30%, 3,847) and ‘craft industries’ (12.7%, 1,644). Geographically, employment was concentrated in counties Galway (22%), and Donegal (18%).

The results of the survey suggest that employment in the overall creative sector grew in recent years. Employment in ‘cultural industries’ increased by 2.3% (2012-2015) while in ‘creative industries’ there was stronger growth of 15.8%. ‘Craft industries’ however showed no significant change.

Infographic of Economic Impacts of Creative Sector in West of Ireland

Social Impacts

The report authors note that studies have found the creative sector has a range of wider benefits and spill-over impacts. Such benefits are difficult to measure precisely, but their assessment suggests the contribution is significant. A range of wider socio-economic contributions from the creative sector in the Western Region are examined in the report:

Place-based impacts

  • The creative sector is locally embedded, facilitating strong local economy value capture. But it is also internationally and globally focused, supporting economic growth. The creative sector can contribute to re-inventing perceptions of peripheral regions as attractive, creative places to live, work and visit.
  • The qualities of creative sector entrepreneurs are an asset that facilitate harnessing of local opportunities, such as from place-based resources including culture, traditions, landscape and heritage.

Human and social capital impacts

  • Inter-sectoral mobility of creative labour, as well as strong knowledge transfer to emerging talent and other entrepreneurs, strengthens the human resource capacity of the region.
  • The open and collaborative approach of creative sector entrepreneurs builds a supportive entrepreneurial environment aligned with the concept of ‘coopetition’.
  • Creative sector entrepreneurs also contribute to positive social and community impacts.

Infographic of Socio-economic impacts of creative sector

To support the consideration of the socio-economic impacts of the sector three case studies are included in the assessment:

  • Festival impacts: Willie Clancy Summer School
  • Arts impacts: Gaeltacht areas in the Western Region
  • Tourism Impacts: Creative and cultural assets


The analysis suggests the creative sector has significant economic and social value in the Western Region of Ireland. It highlights the important role of the creative sector in supporting more balanced, sustainable development in peripheral and rural regions. The sector’s structure, composed of small locally engaged businesses, is an important part of its value.

Placing the creative sector as part of a regional development strategy can support a move away from reliance on service and primary sectors and towards a more diversified economy focusing on new sources of economic competitiveness. Synergies between the creative sector and other indigenous industry sectors, such as agriculture, the marine and tourism, provide avenues for exploration to support future sustainable growth.

The researchers conclude by noting that this is a one off report based on limited evidence. Better evidence can help to identify benefits of particular creative sub-sectors so local agencies can focus on sectors which best address specific local development needs.  To more fully capture the value and needs of the creative sector regularly published official statistics measuring key socio-economic indicators by region and creative sector are needed.

Download the report here

Pauline White

Leprechauns in Invisible Regions: Regional GVA (GDP) in 2015

Regional GVA (GDP)[1] figures for 2015, and preliminary figures for 2016, were published recently by the CSO.  The 2015 figures are of particular interest as that year (the year of leprechaun economics), there was a level shift in the size of the economy.  The relocation to Ireland by significant Multi National Enterprises (MNEs) of some or all of their business activities and assets (in particular valuable Intellectual Property) alongside increased contract manufacturing conducted abroad (which is included in Irish accounts), all contributed to the very significant growth in GDP.

There has been much discussion of the issue (see here, here and here) and a review of the statistics used to produce the data.  In addition the CSO recently held a seminar on the impact of globalisation on Ireland’s accounts, with papers available here).  The significant change in GDP in 2015 (a 26% rise on 2014) is, of course, played out at a regional levels and is evident in the regional GVA data.  However, because of the significant impact of a few businesses in some figures, for reason of confidentiality the CSO has not published GVA data at regional level for Dublin or for the South West (the ‘invisible’ regions of the title).

This is, of course, very problematic for those seeking to understand the economies of these regions and for those of us interested in comparing regional economic activity.  For regions, measures of progress and disparity and measures of how well they are doing, whether they are catching up or falling behind are all key issues considered using GVA data.  Nationally, other indicators (including GNI*, Modified Domestic Demand and a Modified Current account (CA*)) have been developed to help improve our understanding of growth and change in the domestic economy.  It is to be hoped that consideration will be given to producing other regional economic indicators (such as a regional GNI*) which could add to our understanding of changing regional economies.

This post focuses on the level shift in GVA which occurred in 2015 and its impact in regional statistics, while my next post will examine other (more traditional) aspects of regional GVA in more detail.  In this post Dublin, and the South West are considered together.

The size of the Regional Economies

Much of the dramatic increase in GVA was concentrated in Dublin and the South West (although, as discussed below, it was not confined to these regions), so it is useful to look at how much these regions contributed to Irish GVA in 2015 (See Figure 1).  The two regions of Dublin and the South West together accounted for more than two thirds (67%) of Irish GVA, although, interestingly this was not a dramatic increase on 2014 when the two regions contributed 63% of GVA.  This is partly because most regions experienced level shifts in their GVA between the two years.

Figure 1:  Regional contribution to Ireland’s GVA in 2015

*Dublin and South West are not a ‘region’ but are shown together as data not available for these two regions (own calculation from data).

Source: CSO, 2018, County Incomes and Regional Accounts Table 9   GVA per Region at Current Market Prices (GDP), 2007 to 2016 

Output from these regions over time

It is also useful to look at the changing contribution of the two regions with the largest economies over a longer time period (Figure 2).  In 2000, Dublin and the South West contributed 57% of national GVA.  This has been rising, particularly since 2010, and it reached 67% in 2015 (and remains 67% in the 2016 estimate).  This indicates the very significant concentration of high value added activity in these two regions, a concentration which has been increasing over time.

Figure 2: Percentage of National GVA from Regions 2000-2015

Source: CSO, 2018, County Incomes and Regional Accounts table RAA01

Of course, before 2015, these two regions could be considered separately, and in 2014 Dublin contributed 45% of national GVA while the South West contributed 18%.  In 2002 the South West accounted for 20% of GVA and Dublin 37% (figures for the South West generally varied between 18 and 20% of national GVA over this period).

GVA per person in Regions

While the above discussion has focused on the amount of GVA contributed by the regions it is, in general, more useful to consider GVA per person as a means of comparing regions (because of different regional sizes).  Given the lack of data for two of the NUTS 3 regions, it is easiest to look at (Figure 3) NUTS 2 level regions i.e. the Border, Midland and West (BMW) region and the Southern and Eastern (S&E) region (which includes both Dublin and the South West).  GVA per person has always been significantly higher in the S&E region than in the BMW.  In 2000 it was €28,490 in the S&E and €19,148 in the BMW, a difference of €9,342 per person.  The figures followed a similar pattern (with some minor variation in the disparity) over the year to 2012 when the trends began to diverge, most dramatically in 2015.  In that year GVA per person in the S&E was €63,179 (up from €44,464 per person in 2014), and was only €23,606 in the BMW.  This is a very significant difference of €39,573 in GVA per person.

Figure 3: Gross Value Added (GVA) per person at Basic Prices (Euro) by NUTS2 Region and Year (2000 to 2015)

Source: CSO, 2018, County Incomes and Regional Accounts table RAA01


While the difference in GVA is dramatic, it should be remembered that, in relation to household income, which is what is relevant to most people, differences in income from economic activities are, to some extent, smoothed out by taxation and social transfers (see here for discussion of 2015 Household incomes at regional level).  However, the very different output levels among regions are significant and deserve attention.  If high value added activity remains concentrated in a few regions, disparities will continue to widen and there will be an ongoing perception that some regions are ‘dependent’ on others for transfers.  Indeed, without growth in higher value added activity and better quality employment this would become inevitable.  A focus on growing weaker regional economies and increasing higher value added activities (and not just from MNEs) is essential to growing our national economy.

Which regions are most affected by the 2015 level shift?

Although the data for Dublin and the South West has been supressed for reasons of confidentiality, it is clear that these regions experienced a level shift in their GVA between 2014 and 2015 (see Figure 4 below).  But most other regions also experienced a significant increase, or level shift.

It should be noted that, in this post, we are looking at GVA rather than GDP (see footnote 1)[2].  While there was a startling 26% increase in GDP in Ireland in 2015 (published in July 2016), the increase GVA for the State was even bigger in 2015 (37%).  See here for more information on this and on the MNE components of GVA.

As expected, the largest increase (46%) in GVA was in Dublin and the South West (again, these are combined as data for these regions was not published[3]).  But the other regions in the S&E also experienced a significant increase, with the Mid East, Mid West and South East all showing increases in GVA of more than 30%.

Figure 4: Increase in GVA in NUTS 3 regions between 2014 and 2015

Source: CSO, 2018, County Incomes and Regional Accounts Table 9b   GVA per Region at Basic Prices


In contrast, the three regions which together make up the NUTS2 BMW region had much smaller increases in GVA.  Between 2014 and 2015 GVA in the Midland region increased by 17%, in the West by 10% and in the Border region by only 6%.  The impacts of globalisation on GVA statistics are significantly less in the BMW region, which is much less dependent on the globalised sectors (though consequently they also have much lower economic output).

Preliminary data for 2016 shows a return to more normal GVA growth rates between 4% (Mid East and West) and 7% in the Border region.  The ‘Dublin and South West group’ shows a modest 5% increase in GVA.

Manufacturing and other sectors affected

Manufacturing is key sector experiencing the level shift in GVA between 2014 and 2015.   Looking at the manufacturing sector in the NUTS 3 regions (Figure 5 below), it is clear that most regions experienced a level shift in GVA from Manufacturing.  Only the Border region showed no discernible change, with a growth of only 5% in Manufacturing GVA.  The West also had a more modest (though still significant) growth in GVA of 25% from Manufacturing in 2014-2015.  With two NUTS regions (Mid West and South East) showing growth in GVA from manufacturing of more than 100% and Dublin and the South West combined showing a 172% increase in GVA from Manufacturing, this is clearly the sector where most of the significant changes between 2014 and 2015 took place.

Figure 5: Increase in GVA in the Manufacturing Sector in NUTS 3 regions between 2014 and 2015

Source: CSO, 2018, County Incomes and Regional Accounts Table 9d and e GVA by sector


However, in a number of other sectors different regions showed quite significant changes.  As would be expected these are in the high value sectors with global value chains.  There were significant increases in ‘Professional, Scientific and Technical Activities etc.’ in the Border (43%), the Mid East (50%) and South East (48%), while the Border also showed a 31% increase in GVA from Financial and Insurance Activities in 2014-2015.  Finally, the South East experienced a 39% increase in GVA from Information and Communication.  Not all of these increases are necessarily related to the relocation of IP assets, or to the other factors which underlie the level shift in GVA between 2014 and 2015 but these are all very significant growth figures (the detail of other sector changes in GVA will be discussed in a forthcoming post.)

Manufacturing is the sector where data is suppressed for reason of confidentiality in Dublin and the South West.   It is a key sector in these regions.  In 2014 (the first year for which such regional data was available) the South West accounted for 34% of Ireland’s Manufacturing GVA and Dublin accounted for 29% (63% in total). In 2015, as shown in Fig. 6, the two combined accounted for 73% of Ireland’s GVA from Manufacturing.

Figure 6: Regional contribution to Manufacturing GVA in 2015

Source: CSO, 2018, County Incomes and Regional Accounts Table 9d GVA by sector


The dominance of these two regions in the high value manufacturing sector is evident when the contribution of different sectors to regional GVA is considered at NUTS 2 level (Figures 7 and 8 below).  In the Southern and Eastern region manufacturing accounted for 38% of the Region’s GVA, and other high value areas (‘Information and Communications’ (10%), ‘Financial and Insurance Activities’ (7%) and ‘Professional, Scientific and Technical Activities’ (11%) also relatively important (28% of GVA in the S&E came from these three sectors combined).

Figure 7: Gross Value Added by Sector in the Southern and Eastern Region

Source: CSO, 2018, County Incomes and Regional Accounts Table 9d GVA by sector


In the Border, Midland and Western region the Manufacturing sector contributed 28% of GVA and the other high value sectors were much less significant in GVA terms.  ‘Information and Communications’ (2%), ‘Financial and Insurance Activities’ (5%) and ‘Professional, Scientific and Technical Activities’ (6%) combined only accounted for 13% of GVA in the BMW region.  In contrast ‘Public Administration and Defence’ accounted for 24% of GVA in the BMW region and only 10% in the Southern and Eastern region.

Figure 8: Gross Value Added by Sector in the Border, Midland and Western Region

Source: CSO, 2018, County Incomes and Regional Accounts Table 9d GVA by sector



GVA is essential regional data, despite its limitations.  It is one of the key variables for national and international regional comparisons and, given the paucity of other regional economic data, it is particularly important.  While understanding the necessity of ensuring data confidentiality, the lack of GVA data for two regions limits discussion of regional development significantly.

Given the focus on regional development in government policy (Project Ireland 2040) we need to be able to measure how regions are doing.  Income, Wealth and Consumption data would give a good picture of how households in regional economies are doing, but while we have regional income data, there is no longitudinal data on wealth and consumption for regions.  Similarly we have Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) data at regional level giving a broader picture of income and poverty, and Labour Force Survey data on employment and unemployment.  However, although these are important, each region also needs to have an indicator of economic activity and growth.

Potentially the issue of confidentiality will not affect data for every year, and 2015 (and 2016 preliminary data) might prove to be exceptions, with full regional GVA data available again in the future.  Nonetheless, the difficulties with regional GDP need to be addressed.  Should new NUTS2 regions be agreed with Eurostat (to align with the regional assemblies) GVA data will published for these.  Currently as both Dublin and the South West are in the NUTS2 Southern and Eastern Region, it is only necessary to withhold data for both of these NUTS3 regions and the NUTS 2 data can be published in full.  In future,  if Dublin and the South West will be in different NUTS 2 regions (Dublin in the Eastern and Midland Region, and the South West in the Southern Region, to ensure confidentiality in relation to these regions, it might become necessary to supress detailed NUTS 3 data for some of the other regions.

It is not clear what solutions might be possible in relation to regional GVA data, but good quality regional data is essential both to understand regional economies and to monito the impact of regional and national policy.  Development of the GNI* indicator at regional level could help to understand activities in domestic regional economies.

Improving our understanding of regional economic growth and change is essential if we are to develop policies and actions to ensure that all regions can grow their economies, employment and value add at more comparable rates into the future.



Helen McHenry


[1] GDP is Gross Domestic Product, GDP and GVA are the same concept i.e. they measure the value of the goods and services (or part thereof) which are produced within a region or country. GDP is valued at market prices and hence includes taxes charged and excludes the value of subsidies provided. GVA at basic prices on the other hand excludes product taxes and includes product subsidies. See background notes .

[2] For the purposes of regional accounts GVA is the most common measure of regional growth and regional economic activity. However data in Figure 1 (from Table 9) is GVA at market prices (GDP).

[3] The amount for this ‘combined region’ was calculated by subtracting the other regional data from the total.

What are the Capital Infrastructure Priorities for the Western Region?

Last week the WDC made a Submission to the Public Consultation on the Mid-term Review of the Capital Plan 2016-2021.

The consultation sought views as to what should be included in the current Plan (€42 billion), over and above what is already included – arising from additional resources (€5 billion) being made available.

In addition, an interesting and welcome aspect was that the Consultation also sought views on the criteria which should inform consideration of the capital investment choices to be made. This was in the context of the remainder of the current plan, but also and arguably of more importance in the context of a longer term 10 year Capital Plan.

This idea of a longer term 10 year Capital Plan acknowledges another important Public Consultation underway – the National Planning Framework (NPF) and the need to consider investment priorities which would align and support the final NPF. A draft NPF is due for consideration over this Summer.

In discussing the Considerations for the Mid-Term Review of the Capital Plan (Section 2), the WDC highlighted the importance of infrastructure for regional development where all regions need quality infrastructure to compete effectively. The WDC submission also noted;

  • The importance of long-term planning, as decisions made on infrastructure now have very long term impacts.
  • The need to invest to join existing networks together and complete ‘unfinished sections’. For example once the Gort-Tuam motorway is complete, the priority should then be to improve the outstanding sections between Tuam and Sligo to ensure a high quality road network.
  • Identify and utilise existing available capacity before considering new investments at congested sites. For example there is international air access capacity available at Shannon and Ireland West Airport Knock. Another example is to develop more attractive services on the rail network, which is a valuable transport asset with capacity to ease congestion on the road network and help us meet Ireland’s climate change obligations.
  • Develop inter-regional linkages. While connectivity to Dublin from most regions has improved considerably in the last decade, inter-regional connectivity is relatively poor. By improving inter-regional connectivity, such as improving the road network between the urban centres in the Mid-West, West and North West then the investment potential of the key urban centres there can be enhanced.

The WDC submission also notes the importance of appropriate appraisal and evaluation methods when considering alternative investment projects. The capital appraisal and evaluation methods determining the costs and benefits of different investment projects need to be re-examined. The traditional cost benefit approach will naturally favour the larger and often largest population centres as the impacts are likely to be felt by a greater number, wherever the project is being delivered. To realise better spatial balance, there will need to be a change to the conventional appraisal and evaluation methodologies which are typically used to determine what projects proceed. The impact on the wider spatial balance of the country should be factored in.

In the section examining the prioritisation of Capital Expenditure and Selection of Projects/Programmes in current Capital Plan (Section 3), the WDC focused on the infrastructure areas it considers critical for Western development.

Key priority infrastructural investments include:

  • Funding to deliver and complete the National Broadband Plan as soon as possible to ensure high speed broadband for all.
  • National primary road improvements including N4, N5, N6, M17, M18, incorporating the Atlantic Road corridor.
  • National secondary roads see WDC Submission for specific priorities.
  • There is a need to increase regional and local roads funding to allow road maintenance programme to be enhanced.
  • The importance of Bus services and the Rural transport programme to citizens in the Western Region is highlighted.
  • Continue investment is needed to support increased rail frequencies and service levels on routes serving the Western Region.
  • Ongoing support for improvements and access to Ireland West Airport Knock and Shannon.
  • Investment in the electricity network and natural gas infrastructure is made through the commercial state sector, but it should be co-ordinated and monitored through the Capital Investment Plan.
  • Apart from completing all energy commitments in the Capital Plan there should be investment to connect to the natural gas grid at Athenry, Ballyhaunis and Knock, all three of which qualified for connection in 2006.

In Section 4, Long-term Capital Investment Framework (10 years), the WDC Submission examines the longer-term considerations needed for effective capital investment. The WDC believes that capital investment which is by its nature long-term investment should be undertaken within the context of a longer term planning framework as is proposed in the National Planning Framework 2040. The WDC has made a detailed submission to the NPF (4.5 MB) consultation conducted by the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government.

Other considerations include:

Capital spending on new infrastructure should focus on supporting better spatial balance as well as supporting those citizens and that part of the country which is relatively poorly served. Quality infrastructure is one of the necessary conditions for regional development.

Investment in road infrastructure to join existing networks together and complete ‘unfinished sections’. For example in the West/North West. These are often infrastructure requirements needed to satisfy current as well as future demand.

As outlined previously, the state should capitalise on the capacity already available and ‘sweat’ the state investment already made, such as in transport, for example the rail network and the international airports with spare capacity such as Shannon and Ireland West Airport Knock. Other examples include educational infrastructure (Institutes of Technology), Health facilities and Housing.

Policy will also influence the infrastructure investments needed. The need to lower carbon emissions will help influence infrastructural investments (for example supporting cleaner transport modes).

Another consideration is to enable greater policy integration and joined up investment decisions across all sectors, for example planning, employment and transport policy sectors, which are proven to help to make sustainable and active travel more attractive alternatives to the private car.

A good example is the benefits which could be realised through increased e-Working, see WDC Policy Briefing No.7 (748 KB) which can reduce transport demand, traffic congestion and emissions. It has been estimated that if just 10% of the working population of 2.1 million were to work from home for 1 day a week, there would be a reduction of around 10 million car journeys to work per annum[1]. Benefits arising from higher broadband speeds and greater levels of e-Working include time savings, enhanced communications, increased sales and productivity gains[2]. To promote greater take-up, e-Work needs to be prioritised as a policy objective and a cross departmental approach is required. Lead departments would include the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Communications, Climate Change and Environment.

The WDC Submission is available for download here (4 MB).

Deirdre Frost

[1]Department for Transport, Smarter Travel: A Sustainable Transport Future, A New Transport Policy for Ireland 2009-2020 http://www.smartertravel.ie/sites/default/files/uploads/2012_12_27_Smarter_Travel_english_PN_WEB%5B1%5D.pdf#overlay-context=content/publications. p.35

[2] Indecon International Economic Consultants, July 2012. Economic / Socio-Economic Analysis of Options for Rollout of Next Generation Broadband. Analysis undertaken on behalf of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR) as part of the Government’s National Broadband Plan, 2012. http://www.dccae.gov.ie/communications/SiteCollectionDocuments/Broadband/National%20Broadband%20Plan.pdf

How are we doing?  GDP of Irish Regions in 2014

The CSO has recently published Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures for Irish regions (NUTS3) for 2014.  This publication updates the preliminary figures for 2014 which were published last year (and also makes some changes to the 2013 figures) but it does not, unfortunately, provide any 2015 estimates.

While a regional GDP[1] figure is provided (Table 9a) most of the information for regional accounts is for GVA at basic prices (Table 9c).  These are considered in this post which examines differences among regions and changes over time.

Discussions of GDP inevitably must also consider on the limitations of the statistic as a measure of economic development (see here ) but it is the key statistic used, despite shortcomings.  As Eurostat notes here GDP per capita does not provide an indication as to the distribution of wealth between different population groups in the same region, nor does it measure the income ultimately available to private households in a region, as commuter flows may result in employees contributing to the GDP of one region (where they work), and to household income in another region (where they live).

This drawback is particularly relevant when there are significant net commuter flows into or out of a region. Areas that are characterised by a considerable number of inflowing commuters often display regional GDP per capita that is extremely high (when compared with surrounding regions). This pattern is seen in many metropolitan regions of the EU, but principally in capital cities and is very clearly displayed in Ireland in particular between Dublin and the Mid East.

Indeed, the Solas Regional Labour Market Bulletin for 2016 has noted that the prevalence of inter-regional commuting was the highest in the Mid -East region, where 40% of workers who resided in the region were employed in other regions, the majority of whom were employed in Dublin. For this reason in most of the rest of the post Dublin and the Mid East regions are considered together.  It highlights that commuting to work was also sizeable in the Midland region, where a quarter of those in employment were commuting to other regions , while in the Border, South-East and West regions the corresponding figure was about one-in-ten.

Given these difficulties with the data, a  better picture of regional growth and development would be gained from a broader focus considering Income, Wealth and Consumption data but while Income figures are available at NUTS 3 level (see here) there is little regional data on Wealth and Consumption.

Despite issues with GDP and GVA they are important regional statistics and considering relative levels and changes over time can help us better understand economic development and growth in our regions.


How much of our GDP is produced in each Region?

The Dublin region contributed 45% of Ireland’s GDP and the South West contributed 17%.  In contrast the Midland region produced 3% (see Figure 1 below) and the rest of the regions were responsible for between 5 and 8% of national GDP in 2014.

The high level of commuting into the Dublin Region means much of that region’s GDP, more than any other, is produced by workers residing in other regions (mainly the Mid East but also Midland and Border regions).


Figure 1   GVA per Region at Current Market Prices  (GDP), 2014 

Source: CSO, 2017, County Incomes and Regional GDP 2014, Table 9

It should also be remembered that the regions also vary considerably in size.  While Figure 1 shows the GDP produced in each region in 2014, Figure 2 shows the proportion of the population (as estimated by the CSO for 2014) in each region.  Some of the reasons for the  different distribution of population and economic activity are discussed later in this post.


Figure 2 Population Distribution by Region 2014

Source: CSO, 2017, County Incomes and Regional GDP 2014, Table 13

It is interesting to see how the proportion of GDP produced in each region in 2014 compares with that in 2004 (Figure 3).  In that year Dublin produced 39% of GDP (compared to 45% in 2014) and the Border produced 8% compared to 5%.  This, as will be seen again later in this post, shows the dominance of Dublin, in particular, but the South West is also increasing its relative contribution while the relative importance of GDP from other regions has reduced over time.


Figure 3   GVA per Region at Current Market Prices  (GDP), 2004 

Source: CSO, 2015, County Incomes and Regional GDP 2012, Table 9b


Regional GVA per person

Clearly Dublin produces much of Ireland’s economic output, but it is important to look at how much is produced per person in each region.  As noted by Eurostat here, in a majority of the multi-regional EU Member States, capital city regions were generally those with the highest average GDP per capita; the only exceptions to this rule were Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.

Figure 4 shows the amount of GVA produced per person resident in each of the NUTS3 regions.  Dublin and the Mid East had the highest GVA per person in 2014 (€51,799), while the South West also had high output (€45,956).  In contrast the Border (€18,371) and Midland (€19,778) were much lower, the Border region only 35% of that in Dublin and the Mid East and the Midlands 38%.


Figure 4: GVA per person at basic prices 2014

Source:  CSO, 2017, County Incomes and Regional GDP 2014, Table 9c


Regional recovery in GVA- or not…?

The different trends in GDP overtime can be seen in Figure 5 below which shows GDP per capita for 2006, 2010 and 2014.

The Border is the only region to still have a lower GVA per person in 2014 than it did in 2010.  All other regions are now above the 2010 level, (though only by small amounts in the Midland and West).  However, only Dublin plus Mid East and the South West had higher GVA per person in 2014 than in 2006.


Figure 5: GVA per person (basic Prices) NUTS3 Regions (2006,2010,2014)

Source: CSO, 2017, County Incomes and Regional GDP 2014, Table 9c

Looking at the variation since 2006 (Figure 6 below) the strong recovery in Dublin and the Mid East since 2011 is evident.  The recovery in the South West was less consistent with a decline in 2013 but these two regions are significantly ahead of the other regions both in terms of the level of GVA per capita and the scale of recovery.  The West region which had begun to recover well had GVA growth between 2009 and 2012, it fell in 2013 but 2014 shows some recovery while recovery in the Midland and Border regions has been sluggish.


Figure 6: GVA per person 2006-2014 (Basic Prices) NUTS3 Regions.

Source:  CSO, 2017, County Incomes and Regional GDP 2014, Table 9c

These differing patterns of change can also be seen clearly when GVA per person is shown as an Index where the State =100 (Figure 7).  This allows us to consider the GVA per person in each region compares with that in the state over time (2006 to 2014).

The relative decline (compared to the State) in 2014 for all regions except the South West and Dublin plus the Mid East is worrying and the widening of disparities among the regions since 2006 is very clear.  In 2006 the gap between the lowest GVA per person (Midland 70.0 points) and the highest (Dublin plus Mid East 124.7 points) was 54.7 index points, but by 2014 the gap had increased very significantly to 87.8 index points (Border 48.2, Dublin plus Mid East 136.0).  In 2014 the Border (48.2) and Midland (51.9) were very low compared to the state, but even the South East (67.0), West (71.3) and the Mid West (75.9) have low GVA per person compared to the state average.


Figure 7: Indices of GVA per person 2006-2014 (Basic Prices) NUTS3 Regions (State=100)

Source: CSO, 2017, County Incomes and regional GDP 2014, Table 10


How do Irish Regions compare to the EU average?

It is useful to look at how Irish regions (at NUTS 3 level) compare to the EU average.  This is shown in Figure 8 with Indices of Irish regions between 2006 and 2014 with the EU average equalling 100 in each of those years.  The disparities discussed above are also clear relative to the EU average GVA per person.

In 2014 two of the regions (Dublin plus Mid East (179.5) and South West(159.2)) were significantly above the EU average while the Mid West, which was consistently above the EU average from 2006 to 2013 was just barely above for 2014 (100.1).  The State itself was also above the EU average (132.0).

In contrast, the West, which was briefly above EU average in 2012 and 2013 has again fallen below the EU average (94.1), while the South East was 88.5 in 2014.  The other NUTS 3 regions (Midland (68.5) and Border (63.6)) were both considerably below the EU average and both less than 75% of the EU 28 average.


Figure 8: Indices of GVA per person 2006-2014 (Basic Prices) NUTS3 Regions (EU28=100)

Source: CSO, 2017, County Incomes and regional GDP 2014, Table 11

Most EU structural funds  are directed to NUTS 2 level regions where GDP per capita is less than 75% of the EU28 average.  While both the Midlands and Border regions are well below this, when combined with the West the NUTS2 Border, Midland and West (BMW) region was just above the cut off for structural funds at 75.7% of the EU average in 2014[2].  By comparison, in 2006 the BMW region was 106.1% of the EU28 average.


Labour Productivity at Regional Level

Within regional accounts, labour productivity is defined as GVA at basic prices per person employed.  It should be remembered that in the regional GVA data for Ireland the ‘person at work’ statistic is related to the region of residence rather than of employment and so the gaps in GVA among regions can appear even wider.  This is shown in Figure 9.

GVA per person at work is, as expected, highest in Dublin at €116,112 per person at work while in the Midland region it is €49,863.  High levels of labour productivity are linked to the efficient use of labour (without using more inputs) and to the mix of activities in the regional  economy (some activities, such as financial services, have higher levels of labour productivity than others).  The South West also shows a very high level of labour productivity. At €111,600 per person at work the South West is only slightly below that of Dublin and the Mid East.  This is also likely to be due to the sectors in the region, especially pharmaceutical and other multinational manufacturers.


Figure 9: GVA per person and GVA per person at work (labour productivity) in 2014

Source: CSO, 2017, County Incomes and Regional GDP 2014, Table 13

Where a region has a higher proportion of older people, children, or people not in work for other reasons, the GVA  produced is being divided among relatively fewer people at work and so the figures for GVA per person at work appear better.  This is the case in the Border region most significantly, where only 36% of the population is classified as being at work, but also applies to those for the Midland region (39.7%) and the Mid West (39.4%) all of which have a lower proportion of people at work than the state average (41.7%).  In contrast Dublin (45.2%) and the Mid East (43.2%) have much higher proportions of people at work in their populations.

Figure 10 below shows the proportion of the population at work in each of the regions in 2014 as estimated by the CSO.


Figure 10: Proportion of the population in each region classified as persons at work, 2014

Source: CSO, 2017, County Incomes and Regional GDP 2014, Table 13



Dublin and the Mid East had the highest GVA per person in 2014 (€51,799), while the South West also had high output (€45,956).  In contrast the Border (€18,371) and Midland (€19,778) were much lower, the Border region only 35% of that in Dublin and the Mid East and the Midlands 38%.

The Border is the only region to still have a lower GVA per person in 2014 than it did in 2010.  All other regions are now above the 2010 level, (though only by small amounts in the Midland and West).  However, only Dublin plus Mid East and the South West had higher GVA per person in 2014 than in 2006 and other regions have not yet returned to the 2006 level.

The differences in GVA growth among regions are partially the result of increased productivity and concentration in high value sectors in the wealthier regions, and partly relate to different commuting patterns and the worker to population ratios.

The variations underline the importance of ensuring that there is a focus on regional development needs and a policy of investment and promotion of higher value sectors in all regions, so that the benefits of the recovery are felt more widely.


Helen McHenry


[1] GDP is Gross Domestic Product, GDP and GVA are the same concept i.e. they measure the value of the goods and services (or part thereof) which are produced within a region or country. GDP is valued at market prices and hence includes taxes charged and excludes the value of subsidies provided. GVA at basic prices on the other hand excludes product taxes and includes product subsidies. See background notes 

[2] The allocation of cohesion funds is currently based on a decision referring to average GDP per capita during the three-year period from 2007 to 2009; a mid-term review of cohesion policy allocations is taking place during the course of 2016 and will likely result in some changes to the system — more information is provided in an article on regional policies and Europe 2020.  See here also .

Key Issues for the National Planning Framework – Submission from the WDC

The WDC  made its submission on Ireland 2040 – Our Plan: National Planning Framework   yesterday.  The Issues and Choices paper covered a wide range of topics from national planning challenges to sustainability, health, infrastructure and the role of cities and towns.  A key element of the paper considered the future in a “business as usual” scenario in which even greater growth takes place in the Dublin and Mid East region with consequent increased congestion and increasing costs for businesses and society, while other parts of the country continue to have under-utilised potential which is lost to Ireland.  The consultation paper therefore sought to explore the broad questions of alternative opportunities and ways to move away from the “business as usual” scenario.

The WDC submission considers these issues from the perspective of the Western Region, the needs of the Region, the opportunities its development presents for Ireland’s economy and society as a whole and the choices, investments and policy required to achieve regional growth and resilience.

This post highlights the key points made in the submission.  The complete, comprehensive submission on the National Planning Framework by the WDC can be read here (4.5MB PDF).  A shorter summary is available here (0.7MB PDF).


What should the NPF achieve?

  • The National Planning Framework (NPF) provides Ireland with an opportunity to more fully realise the potential of all of its regions to contribute to national growth and productivity. All areas of Ireland, the Capital and second tier cities, large, medium and small-sized towns, villages and open countryside, have roles to play both in the national economy and, most importantly, as locations for people to live.
  • While spatial planning strives for ideal settlement or employment patterns and transport infrastructure, in many aspects of life change is relatively slow; demographics may alter gradually over decades and generations and, given the housing boom in the early part of this century, many of our existing housing units will be in use in the very long term. If the NPF is to be effective it must focus on what is needed, given current and historical patterns and the necessity for a more balanced pattern of development.
  • To effectively support national growth it is important that there is not excessive urban concentration “Either over or under [urban] concentration … is very costly in terms of economic efficiency and national growth rates” (Vernon Henderson, 2000[1]). Thus it is essential that, through the NPF, other cities and other regions become the focus of investment and development.

Developing Cities

  • As the NPF is to be a high level Framework, in this submission the WDC does not go into detail by naming places or commenting on specific development projects, as these will be covered by the forthcoming Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies (RSES). The exception to this, however, is in relation to the need for cities to counterbalance Dublin.  In this case we emphasise the role of Galway and the potential for Sligo to be developed as the key growth centre for the North West.
  • The North West is a large rural region and Sligo is the best located large urban centre to support development throughout much of the North West region. With effective linkages to other urban centres throughout the region and improved connectivity, along with support from regional and national stakeholders, Sligo can become a more effective regional driver, supporting a greater share of population, economic and employment growth in Sligo itself and the wider North West region.

Developing Towns

  • While the NPF is to be a high level document and the focus is largely on cities it is important not to assume that development of key cities will constitute regional development. All areas need to be the focus of definite policy, and the NPF should make this clear.
  • While cities may drive regional development, other towns, at a smaller scale, can be equally important to their region. Recognising this is not the same as accepting that all towns need the same level of connection and services.  It is more important to understand that the context of each town differs, in terms of distance and connectivity to other towns and to the cities, the size of the hinterland it serves and its physical area as well as population.  Therefore their infrastructure and service needs differ.
  • Towns play a central role in Ireland’s settlement hierarchy. While much of the emphasis in the NPF Issues and Choices paper is on cities and their role, for a large proportion of Ireland’s population small and medium-sized towns act as their key service centre for education, retail, recreation, primary health and social activities.  Even within the hinterlands of the large cities, people access many of their daily services in smaller centres.  The NPF needs to be clear on the role it sees for towns in effective regional development.

Rural Areas

  • Rural areas provide key resources essential to our economy and society. They are the location of our natural resources and also most of our environmental, biodiversity and landscape assets.  They are places of residence and employment, as well as places of amenity, recreation and refuge.
  • They are already supporting national economic growth, climate action objectives and local communities, albeit at a smaller scale than towns and cities. But a greater focus on developing rural regions would increase the contribution to our economy and society made by rural areas.
  • The key solution to maintaining rural populations is the availability of employment. It is important that the NPF is truly focused on creating opportunities for the people who live in the regions, whether in cities, towns or rural areas.

Employment and Enterprise

  • In the Issues and Choices paper a narrow definition of ‘job’, ‘work’ and ‘employer’ as a full-time permanent employee travelling every day to a specific work location seems to be assumed. This does not recognise either the current reality of ‘work’ or the likely changes to 2040. Self-employment, the ‘gig’ or ‘sharing’ economy, contract work, freelancing, e-Working, multiple income streams, online business are all trends that are redefining the conceptions of work, enterprise and their physical location.
  • If the NPF mainly equates ‘employer’ with a large IT services or high-tech manufacturing company, many of which (though by no means all) are attracted to larger cities, then it will only address the needs of a small proportion of the State’s population and labour force.
  • Similarly the NPF must recognise the need to enable and support the diversification of the Irish economy and enterprise base. It must provide a support framework for indigenous business growth across all regions and particularly in sectors where regions have comparative advantage.

Location Decisions

  • While job opportunities are a critical factor in people’s decision of where to live, they are by no means the only factor. Many other personal and social factors influence this decision such as closeness to family (including for childcare and elder care reasons), affordability, social and lifestyle preferences, connection to place and community.
  • Many people have selected to live in one location but commute to work elsewhere or, in some cases, e-Work for a number of days a week. The NPF needs to recognise the complexity of reasons for people’s location decisions in planning for the development of settlements.


  • New infrastructure can be transformative (the increase in motorway infrastructure in recent decades shows how some change happens relatively quickly). Therefore it is essential that we carefully consider where we place new investments.  To do so, capital appraisal and evaluation methods determining the costs and benefits of different investment projects need to be re-examined if we are to move from a ‘business as usual’ approach.
  • Investment in infrastructure can strongly influence the location of other infrastructure with a detrimental impact on unserved locations. The North West of the country is at a disadvantage compared to other regions with regard to motorway access. This situation will be compounded if investment in rail is focused on those routes with better road access (motorways) in order for rail to stay competitive, or if communications or electricity networks are developed along existing motorway or rail corridors.
  • The WDC believes that the regional cities can be developed more and have untapped potential, however better intra-regional linkages are needed. The weaker links between the regional centres – notably Cork to Limerick and north of Galway through to Sligo and on to Letterkenny, are likely to be a factor in the relatively slower growth of regional centres in contrast to the motorway network, most of which serves Dublin from the regions.

Climate Change

For the future, the need to move to a low carbon, fossil fuel free economy is essential and needs to be an integral and much more explicit part of the NPF.  The National Mitigation Plan for Climate Change is currently being developed, and it is essential that actions under the NPF will be in line with, and support, the actions in the Mitigation Plan.

How should the NPF be implemented?

  • While much of the role of the NPF is strategic vision and coordination of decision-making, in order for the Framework to be effective it is essential that the achievement of the vision and the actions essential to it are appropriately resourced. The Issues and Choices paper does not give a detailed outline of how the NPF implementation will be resourced, except through the anticipated alignment with the Capital Investment Programme.
  • It should be remembered that policy on services and regional development is not just implemented through capital spending but also though current spending and through policy decisions with spatial implications (such as those relating to the location of services). Therefore it is essential that other spending, investment and policy decisions are in line with the NPF rather than operating counter to it.
  • While the NPF is to provide a high level Framework for development in Ireland to 2040, it seems this Framework is to be implemented at a regional level through the RSES. The Framework and the Strategies are therefore interlinked yet the respective roles of the NPF and the RSES are not explicit and so it is not evident which areas of development will be influenced by the NPF and which by the RSES.
  • In order to ensure that the NPF is implemented effectively it is important that there is a single body with responsibility for its delivery and that there is a designated budget to help achieve its implementation.


It is expected that a draft National Planning Framework document will be published for consultation in May.  Following that a final version of the Framework will be prepared for discussion and consideration by Dáil Éireann.


As mentioned above the full WDC submission on the Issues and Choices paper Ireland 2040 Our Plan- A National Planning Framework is available here (PDF 4.5MB) and a summary of key point and responses to consultation questions is available here (PDF 0.7MB).



Helen McHenry

[1] http://www.nber.org/papers/w7503

All Island Dialogue on the Implications of Brexit on Culture, Heritage, Regional SMEs & the Impact on Border & other Rural Communities

Two weeks ago (6th February 2017) Minister Heather Humphreys hosted an All Island Dialogue on the implications of Brexit on Culture, Heritage, Regional SMEs & the Impact on Border & other Rural Communities in Cavan.   This was one of the fourteen All-Island sectoral dialogues which have taken place across the country over the recent weeks.

Over 100 stakeholders attended the event and there was engaged and active discussion of the issue throughout the day.  To begin with the Minister outlined the Government’s ongoing response to Brexit.  Then a panel of experts covering the broad range of sectors under the remit of the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs each gave a short overview of the implications of Brexit for their sector.

Roundtable discussions were then held to consider the immediate impact of Brexit, longer term impacts and how they might be mitigated. The focus was on arts, heritage, small businesses and rural communities.  The discussions fed back into a broader panel discussion.

Common Themes from the discussions

A number of common themes emerged from the discussion (as well as detailed sector specific issues which are not covered in this post). A summary of the more general points raised by stakeholders, applicable to all sectors considered on the day, is provided below.

  • Uncertainty over the form and impact of Brexit was key to all of the discussion. This was regarded as a particular problem as we are just emerging from recession. Uncertainty increases risks for businesses, communities, cultural organisations and people as they make decisions.  Plans are therefore being delayed until a clearer picture emerges.
  • This slowdown in individual and business decision making is affecting economic and social activities on both sides of the border, even before the full consequences of Brexit are known.
  • There is very significant variation in the levels of knowledge of the possible implications of Brexit among businesses, communities and people. Some are well informed about possible difficulties or opportunities, others have very poor understanding and will therefore face more difficulty in making plans and developing responses to Brexit.
  • Currency fluctuations and the loss of value of sterling have had the most immediate impact which has led to other direct impacts on tourism and retail businesses.
  • Maintenance of the Common Travel Area and free movement of people was important to all involved in the discussion. Organisations staff and experts in various sectors move across borders regularly and any restrictions would negatively affect the functioning of these organisations and businesses.
  • Ensuring the continued implementation of the Good Friday Agreement with associated institutions and commitments was regarded as essential.
  • In future, changes to the way cross border services are provided in areas such as health and education will affect people living in border communities.
  • Currently the UK and Ireland are in a common regulatory regime but this will change. Across all sectors there were concerns about the implications of divergence in regulation and implementation of different regulatory approaches.  This is an issue in a variety of areas including, for example, procurement and data protection.
  • The form of future taxation agreements, VAT rules and rates could be very significant and have important implications for businesses and arts and cultural enterprises.
  • There will be a significant change to the funding landscape in the border region and beyond. It is unclear what will happen with the EU Peace programme, Interreg and other funding.  It was agreed that the border counties will be most affected by Brexit, and of these counties some will be more severely affected (Donegal was mentioned as the example of this).  There are over 300 border crossings and it is not clear whether they will all remain open in the future.
  • There has been a significant increase in cross border activity since the Good Friday Agreement and there is concern that this will be diminished. This has business implications but also intangible effects on the mind-set of those living close to the border.
  • A better understanding of the current trade and activities that take place across borders (between ROI and NI and between ROI and GB) is needed. This includes trade of goods and services, but we also have weak understanding of the reasons people are travelling across the border for work, trade or social reasons.
  • Understanding of the cross border infrastructures which have been developing in recent decades is important. The implications of change for roads, energy infrastructure and broadband need to be considered. Changes in the way these are planned and managed will affect both Ireland as a whole and border communities in particular.
  • There should be a focus on the development of new markets outside the UK and support both businesses and cultural organisations in doing this.
  • There was a view that many of the benefits of Brexit will be felt in larger urban centres and that border and rural regions will be most negatively affected because of their proximity to the border, the nature of their enterprises and their smaller population base. There is concern that here could be further rural de-population if the opportunities that Brexit may bring are confined to the Dublin area.  This needs to be addressed in a coherent manner.
  • It was highlighted that if we want a sustainable, viable and vibrant Border region, we need to plan to achieve this
  • There was a suggestion that the concentration on Brexit will take the focus off other important issues already affecting the Border region, such as access to services, infrastructure and access to employment.
  • Finally, among many of the participants, in all areas, there was a positive, ‘can do’ attitude. It was felt that we have had problems and difficulties before and have dealt with them.  There was concern that there might be an overly negative portrayal of the implications of Brexit, and that this in turn was affecting the confidence of enterprise, communities and people and in turn affecting their decision making.

Actions Suggested by Stakeholders during the discussion

  • Clear information needs to be made available about the possible implications for Brexit for communities, cultural organisations and businesses, addressing their specific issues.
  • It is important that there is more analysis and understanding of the current situation in regard to cross border trade, cross border service provision, and the on-going community engagement across borders. This information needs to be used as a basis for considering Brexit implications and appropriate response.  With more detailed information we can have better policy responses.
  • Analysis should not just address issues of business or trade but also the hard to measure issues of social integration, identity and sense of place along the border.
  • It will be important that the implications of differing regulatory standards are well understood and that these are considered both in Brexit negotiations and in developing responses to this regulatory issue in future.
  • We should use expertise from other member states which have borders with non EU countries to get a better understanding of the potential issues and to understand their models and means of ensuring that borders and relationships between EU and Non EU countries are smooth and seamless as possible.
  • The potential for substitution of imports from the UK needs to be explored as it may provide opportunities across a range of sectors.
  • The government needs to continue to consult stakeholders as the impacts of Brexit become clearer so that responses and actions can be developed.
  • We should examine problems individually and develop responses to each. There cannot be one single policy response, each issue will need to be addressed.  Brexit  is complex and responses should be tailored to the individual issue.
  • Both ROI and NI need to work closely together to understand the possible implications for Brexit for both jurisdictions and to work to achieve the best possible agreement. In this it is important that there is a close working relationship and significant engagement with the NI Executive so that all island solutions can be implemented where appropriate
  • Future government policy, including the National Planning Framework, needs to take into account the potential implications of Brexit and the changing nature of the border and ensure that there is a plan for a positive, sustainable future for the border region.
  • Special supports for the border region should be considered, in terms of structural funds as well as enterprise and community support and funding.
  • A specific fund for EU regions with sharing a border with non EU countries should be developed to mitigate the difficulties faced by these regions.


The focus in this dialogue on rural communities and on the Border region was significant, as these are likely to be the most immediately and directly affected by Brexit.  Uncertainty was a key theme of the discussion, and it is to be hoped that once Article 50 has been declared by the UK government and negotiations begin, that the situation may become clearer. You can sign up for on-going updates on Brexit here.



Helen McHenry


How is the Western Region doing?

On 31 January, the WDC was invited to give a presentation to officials of the Department of Social Protection working across the Western Region. The objective was to give an overview of the WDC’s analysis of data across a range of socio-economic issues.

Analysing regional data provides information on the areas for which we are responsible and highlights the multi-dimensional nature of the concept of regional development.  A regional perspective is necessary since changes and inequalities not only occur among individuals but also the places where they live

This (very) comprehensive presentation analyses the following indicators:

  1. Population: Preliminary Census 2016 Results
  2. Labour Market: QNHS Q1 2016, special run
  3. Income: County Incomes & Regional GDP, 2013-2014
  4. Enterprise: Business Demography, 2014

These are some of the key points emerging from the analysis.


  • Population of Western Region grew +0.9% 2011-2016 compared with +3.7% growth nationally.
  • Three counties in the Western Region showed population decline 2011-2016 –(Donegal -1.5%, Mayo -0.2% and Sligo -0.1%) – only counties in Ireland to do so. In addition Leitrim and Roscommon had the lowest growth.  Galway city had 5th highest population growth in Ireland.
  • Every county in Ireland had a positive natural increase (more births than deaths) during 2011-2016. Donegal, Sligo and Mayo however had enough negative net migration to lead to population decline.
  • All western counties, and all but six areas nationally, had negative net migration between 2011 and 2016. Donegal and Sligo had the two highest rates of negative net migration.
  • Male out-migration considerably higher than female leading to a +1.5% increase in the female population of the Western Region and only +2% growth in the male population.
Figure 1: Percentage change in population by administrative area, 2011-2016. CSO (2016), Preliminary Results Census 2016

Figure 1: Percentage change in population by administrative area, 2011-2016. CSO (2016), Preliminary Results Census 2016

Labour Market

  • The Western Region’s labour force declined marginally (-1.2%) between 2007 and 2016. Within this the male labour force fell by -6.1% while the female rose by +5.7%.
  • The Western Region has a lower share of its labour force aged under 35 years and a higher share aged over 44 Its labour force participation rate is lower for both men and women, and across all age groups (except 65+).
  • Total employment in the region fell by -5.8% 2007-2016 compared with a -6.5% decline in the rest of the state (all counties outside Western Region)
  • There has been exceptionally strong growth in self-employment in the Western Region since 2012, increasing by +31.1% in the region compared with +7.2% in the rest of the state.
  • Growth of self-employment tied to sectoral pattern of growth with strongest jobs growth since 2012 in Agriculture, Construction, Accommodation & Food Service and Wholesale & Retail, all with high self-emp
  • Since 2012 the Western Region has had jobs decline in 7 out of 14 sectors, in the rest of the state there was only decline in 1 out of 14. Jobs recovery in the Western Region is not as diversified across the economy as elsewhere and more concentrated in domestic sectors
  • Unemployment numbers declining steadily in region, but share of long-term unemployment growing. Western Region has higher unemployment rate in all age groups (except 65+ & 25-34) and particularly among youth.
Figure 2: % change in employment by sector in Western Region and Rest of State, 2012-2016. CSO, Quarterly National Household Survey, Q1 2012-2016, special run

Figure 2: % change in employment by sector in Western Region and Rest of State, 2012-2016. CSO, Quarterly National Household Survey, Q1 2012-2016, special run


  • Disposable income per person in the Western Region was €17,260 in 2013 (92.3% of State). Provisional 2014 figures show some growth (€17,768) but still well below the 2008 peak (€21,167).
  • Longer term, the gap is narrowing, the Western Region had disposable income of 84.3% of State in 1995, 92.3% of State in 2013.
  • Within the Western Region, Roscommon had a significantly lower income relative to the State in 2014 (87.2%) compared with 2005 (95.8%). Clare has also fallen relative to the State starting at 95.5% in 2005 and dropping to 93.3% in 2014. Sligo, Galway, Mayo and Donegal have all improved their position relative to the State since 2005, albeit with some variation. Galway and Sligo had greatest improvements.
Figure 3: Index of disposable income per person in western counties, 2005-2014 (Index State=100). CSO, County Incomes and Regional GDP 2013, provisional 2014

Figure 3: Index of disposable income per person in western counties, 2005-2014 (Index State=100). CSO, County Incomes and Regional GDP 2013, provisional 2014

Gross Value Added

  • Dublin region is the only region where the preliminary 2014 GVA per person figure is higher than the peak GVA per person in 2007. None of the other regions have recovered to the 2007 level, though the difference in the West region is slight.
  • Dublin and Mid-East and South West, only regions with a greater share of national GVA than share of persons at work.
  • In 2005 there were 60.6 index points between the lowest GVA per person in a region (Midland, 65.4) and the highest (Dublin and the Mid-East, 126.0).  In 2014 the difference between Midland (59.2) and Dublin and the Mid-East, (130.6) was 71.4 index points (71.3 in 2013).
Figure 4: Index of GVA per person by region, 2005-2014 (Index State=100). CSO, County Incomes and Regional GDP 2013, provisional 2014

Figure 4: Index of GVA per person by region, 2005-2014 (Index State=100). CSO, County Incomes and Regional GDP 2013, provisional 2014


  • The share of enterprises nationally that are based in the Western Region is declining and was 17.1% of the total in 2014.
  • Construction, Wholesale & Retail, Professional activities and Accommodation & Food Service are the largest enterprise sectors in the region. Less than 5% of the region’s enterprises are in Financial & Insurance and Information & Communications combined.
  • There has been a far greater decline in enterprise numbers in the Western Region than the rest of the state since 2008 and the region had a weaker performance – greater decline or lower growth – in every sector (ex. real estate).
  • The enterprise base differs across more urban and rural counties. Highly rural counties of Roscommon, Mayo and Donegal have 34-36% of enterprises in Industry and Construction but in more urban counties of Clare and Sligo it is around 30%.  A higher share of enterprises in Galway and Sligo are active in knowledge services sectors, though even Galway is below national average. Local services play a larger role in more rural counties.
  • Western counties had among the greatest losses of enterprises since 2008. Donegal lost more than 1 in 3 of its Construction firms; Wholesale & Retail declined most strongly in Donegal and Clare; Accommodation & Food Service declined across most counties.
  • Knowledge services performed best, though from a low base.
Figure 5: % change in number of active enterprises by sector in Western Region & Rest of State, 2008-2014. CSO, Business Demography, 2014

Figure 5: % change in number of active enterprises by sector in Western Region & Rest of State, 2008-2014. CSO, Business Demography, 2014

The full presentation can be downloaded here  (PDF, 2MB)


Pauline White & Helen McHenry

Realising our Rural Potential- Action Plan for Rural Development

The Action Plan for Rural Development –Realising our Rural Potential –developed by the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (DAHRRGA) was launched yesterday (23.01.17) in Ballymahon, Co. Longford as was mentioned in our last post.


The Action Plan contains 274 actions which are to be completed over the next three years and uses the Action Plan for Jobs as a model with responsibility for the delivery of each action is assigned to a government department  or other body.  Each action has a clear timeline.


There is an emphasis on the positive assets of rural Ireland and on ‘changing the narrative towards the contribution made to our economy and society by rural areas, rather than a focus on rural decline’.

It is recognised that rural Ireland is not a homogenous place and that different areas face different challenges.  There is no clear definition of rural Ireland but it seems to use that defined in the CEDRA (Commission for Economic Development of Rural Areas )  “all areas located beyond the administrative boundaries of the five largest cities”.

Building on Policy

The Action Plan builds on the CEDRA report and the Charter for Rural Ireland and contains a number of actions which build on these.  For example, a review of the implementation of the CEDRA report is one action, while the REDZ are also part of the Action Plan.

action-cedraRural Proofing, which was a commitment in the Rural Chart published last year, is included here too

action-rural-proofingThe Action Plan outlines the population and other changes which have been taking place in rural Ireland and briefly examines the challenges and opportunities faced by rural areas.  One of the key challenges noted is BREXIT and the Western Development Commission is committed to an action (along with DAHRRGA) to examine the impact of BREXIT on rural areas and on border areas in particular.


Action Plan Themes

As mentioned in our previous post there are five thematic pillars, each of which has a series of objectives and actions.   Each of the five are further broken down into more specific themes as follows:

Pillar 1: Supporting Sustainable Communities

  • Making Rural Ireland a better place to live (Actions 1-19)
  • Enhancing Local Services (Actions 20-36)
  • Empowering Local Communities (Actions 37-46)
  • Building Better Communities (Actions 47-67)


Pillar 2: Supporting Enterprise and Employment

  • Growing and Attracting Enterprise (Actions 68-104)
  • Supporting Sectoral Growth (this covers the Agri-food Sector, Renewable energy and International Financial Services -Actions 105-120)
  • Skills and Innovation (Actions 121-134)
  • Supporting Rural Job Seekers and Protecting Incomes (Actions 135-151)


Pillar 3: Maximising our Rural Tourism and Recreation Potential

  • Support targeted Rural Tourism Initiatives (Actions 152-166)
  • Develop and Promote Activity Tourism (Actions 167-185)
  • Develop and Support our Natural and Built Heritage (Actions 186-202)


Pillar 4: Fostering Culture and Creativity in Rural Communities

  • Increase access to the arts in rural communities (Actions 203-209)
  • Enhance Culture and Creativity in Rural Ireland (Actions 210-222)
  • Promote the Irish language as a key resource (Actions 223-231)


Pillar 5: Improving Rural Infrastructure and Connectivity

  • Broadband and Mobile Phone Access (Actions 232-247)
  • Rural Transport (Actions 248-263)
  • Flood Relief Measures (Actions 264-276)


Key Actions

While there are more than 270 actions the key actions for the Plan (as highlighted by DAHRRGA )are listed here:

  • Supporting the creation of 135,000 new jobs in rural Ireland by 2020 by assisting indigenous businesses, investing €50m for collaborative approaches to job creation in the regions, and increasing Foreign Direct Investment in regional areas by up to 40%.
  • Implementing a range of initiatives to rejuvenate over 600 rural and regional towns.
  • Introducing a new pilot scheme to encourage residential occupancy in town and village centres.
  • Assisting over 4,000 projects in rural communities to boost economic development, tackle social exclusion and provide services to people living in remote areas.
  • Increasing the number of visitors to rural Ireland by 12% in the next three years through targeted tourism initiatives, including increased promotion of Activity Tourism.
  • Accelerating the preparation for the rollout of high-speed broadband and ensuring that all homes and businesses in rural Ireland are connected to broadband as early as possible.
  • Increasing capital funding for flood risk schemes up to €80m per annum by 2019 and increasing to €100m per annum by 2021
  • Improving job opportunities for young people in rural areas by increasing the number of apprenticeships and traineeships available locally.
  • Developing an Atlantic Economic Corridor to drive jobs and investment along the Western seaboard and contribute to more balanced regional development.
  • Investing over €50 million in sports, recreation and cultural facilities throughout the country, including in rural areas.
  • Protecting vital services in rural Ireland by improving rural transport provision, enhancing rural GP services and protecting rural schools.
  • Introducing a range of measures to boost job creation in the Gaeltacht, including the creation of 1,500 new jobs in Údarás na Gaeltachta client companies by 2020 and the development of Innovation Hubs in the Donegal, Mayo, Galway and Kerry Gaeltacht regions to support entrepreneurship.
  • Combating rural isolation by improving connectivity and enhancing supports for older people, including significant investment in the Senior Alert scheme.
  • Building safer communities by providing a more visible, effective and responsive police service in rural areas through the recruitment of 3,200 new Garda members over the next four years to reach a strength of 15,000 members, and by introducing a new community CCTV Grant Aid Scheme.
  • Examining the scope for increased investment in regional roads in the context of the review of the Capital Investment Plan 2016-2021
  • Assessing and improving rural transport routes and developing new routes where necessary
  • Delivering 18 new primary care centres in rural Ireland by end of 2018
  • Investing €435m in 90 public nursing facilities and district and community hospitals in rural Ireland, up to 2021, creating up to 5,000 jobs during the construction phase
  • Improving societal cohesion and wellbeing in rural communities by supporting cultural and artistic provision and participation.


Co-ordination and monitoring

One of the important outcomes of the Action Plan should be a more integrated approach to rural issues across government departments and agencies.

The implementation of the Action Plan will be overseen by a Monitoring Committee which will include representatives of relevant government departments and key rural stakeholder interests.  The Committee will be supported by DAHRRGA.

Reports will be submitted every six months to a cabinet committee on Regional and Rural Affairs which is chaired by the Taoiseach and the progress reports on the delivery of the actions will be published.

The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphries, TD  has appointed Pat Spillane as an Ambassador for the Action Plan for Rural Development who will assist the Monitoring Committee in identifying the impacts of the Plan on Rural Ireland and encourage businesses, communities, sporting organisations and others to engage with the Plan.  Mr Spillane previously acted as Chair of the Commission for Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA).  He will also be a member of the Monitoring Committee which will oversee the implementation on the Action Plan.

While the majority of the actions are already part of government policy including them in the Action Plan means that their progress will be regularly monitored by Monitoring Committee which should ensure continued focus.

You can read the full Action Plan here.

There is a short video also available.



Helen McHenry

WDC Insights Christmas Quiz Time Again!

We are sure you have been reading our WDC Insights blog and keeping an eye on our publications throughout 2016.  Take our Christmas Quiz (10 questions) and see just how well you can score on regional development and Western Region issues.

The answers are at the end with links to more information and the relevant posts.

Good Luck!


blog christmas tree1      County Incomes

County incomes and regional GDP statistics are released by the CSO annually.  Disposable indicates the level of material wealth of households residing in different regions and is a better indicator of material well-being of citizens than GDP per person.

What county had the lowest household disposable income per person in 2013 and 2014?

  1. Mayo
  2. Leitrim
  3. Donegal

blog christmas tree2       Regional and Local Roads

Regional and local roads are the core of regional and rural transport. They are crucial to economic activity, and the importance of commuting to work across counties and to towns and cities is well recognised yet the regional and local roads grant allocation for 2016 was €298m, less than half that for 2009.

How many kilometres of regional and local roads are there in Ireland?

  1. 91,000kms
  2. 127,000kms
  3. 62,000kms

blog christmas tree3      Employment and Jobs

The jobs growth that is occurring in the Western Region in recent years has been strongly driven by self-employment.  Between 2012 and 2015 the number of self-employed in the Western Region grew by significantly, and by much more than in the rest of the state.  By how much did it grow?

  1. 12.1
  2. 11.8%
  3. 13.6%

blog christmas tree4      Vital Statistics

It is interesting to look birth and death rates by county and the significant differences among them. There were 65,909 births in the state in 2015 of which 16% (10,527) were to mothers resident in the Western Region.  The birth rate (Births per year per 1,000 population) nationally was 14.1 with the highest rate (17.4) in Fingal.

The lowest birth rate was in both counties Roscommon and Kerry.  What was it?

  1. 12.6 Births per 1,000 population
  2. 9.1 Births per 1,000 population
  3. 11.8 Births per 1,000 population

blog christmas tree5      Enterprises in the Western Region

In 2014 there were 40,797 active enterprises registered in the seven county Western Region.  This was significantly lower than the number registered in 2008.  In contrast, in the rest of the state the number in 2014 was just 1% below the 2008 figure.

How many more businesses were registered in the Western Region in 2008 than in 2014?

  1. 3,824
  2. 2,167
  3. 3,210

blog christmas tree6      Local Property Tax

The Local Property Tax (LPT) is an annual self-assessed tax charged on the market value of all residential properties in the State.  It came into effect in 2013 and is being administered by Revenue.  The total number of properties returned for payment of the LPT in the Western Region was 354,400 in 2015 with 1.86 m properties returned for the state.  In the state €427m in Local Property Tax was collected nationally in 2015.

How much was collected in the Western Region ?

  1. €62.7m
  2. €61.4m
  3. €59.2m

blog christmas tree7      Broadband

The WDC has been highlighting rural broadband needs for more than a decade. It is a particular issue for our largely rural region

What proportion of premises covered by the National Broadband Plan area are in the Western Region?

  1. 73%
  2. 19%
  3. 34%

blog christmas tree8      Regional contribution to Agricultural output

Despite the importance of agriculture for employment in the region it contributed only a small amount to GVA in the West and Border regions.  However, although only a small proportion of GVA is from Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing in these regions, they both make a substantial contribution to national Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing GVA.

What percentage share of national GVA from Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing is produced by the Border Region?

  1. 14.4%
  2. 27.6%
  3. 16.2%

blog christmas tree9      Population changes in the Region

Preliminary results for Census 2016 show that the population grew in most Irish counties, but it fell in some counties of the Western Region.

In how many counties of the Western Region did it fall?

  1. 2 counties
  2. 3 counties
  3. 5 counties

blog christmas tree10      Vehicles licensed for the first time

In 2015 Roscommon had the fifth highest level of new car registrations in the country.  This is surprising for such a small county.  What is the reason?

  1. Roscommon people love to drive new cars
  2. A car hire company operating in the county is registering the cars there
  3. In this county Santa brings new cars for Christmas every year


blog christmas treeAnswers:

  1. County Incomes

Answer: 3) Donegal

For more on this see this post


  1. Regional and Local Roads

Answer: 2) 91,000kms

For more on this see the post here.


  1. Employment and jobs

Answer: 3) 13.6%

For more on this and other information about the jobs recovery see this post


  1. Vital Statistics

Answer: 3) 11.8

Read more about vital statistics in the Western Region counties here


  1. Enterprises in the Western Region

Answer: 1) 3,824

For more about enterprises in the Western Region and the varying trends among counties see this post


  1. Local Property Tax

Answer:1) €62.7m or 2) €61.4m

This time we accept either of two answers!  According to the blog posted in September it was €62.7m but figures have been revised since then and are now €61.4.  Read the blog post to find out more about the LPT or find the latest data here


  1. Broadband

Answer: 3) 34%

Read more about the issue of rural broadband here and here.


  1. Regional contribution to Agricultural output

Answer: 1) 14.4%

Read more about the regional GVA from different sectors and the contribution of regions to national output here.


  1. Population changes in the Western Region

Answer 2) 3 counties

The population fell in Donegal, Sligo and Mayo.  For more on the preliminary results on census 2016 for the Western Region see this post and this post and this post which focuses on housing and vacancy rates or read our WDC Insights and reports available here  https://www.wdc.ie/publications/reports-and-papers/ .


  1. New Vehicle registrations

Answer: 2) A car hire company operating in the county is registering the cars there

There is a Car Hire company office operating in Roscommon which taxes all new vehicles for the Car Hire Company (i.e. all the offices in Ireland)  for the first time in the County – the figures in the previous post were based on the first taxing of the vehicle and not the registration. This company taxed 2,236 vehicles out of the 4,877  vehicles in 2015. That is nearly 45% of the new private cars licensed for the first time in the county.

For more on new car registrations and the level in Co. Roscommon see this post and this one.


How well did you do?

You got 9 or 10 answers correct

CONGRATULATIONS! You really know a lot about regional development, the Western Region and the Western Development Commission’s work.


You got between 4 and 8 answers correct

WELL DONE, a good score but some deficiencies in your knowledge. Perhaps you should read our WDC Insights posts more carefully in 2017!


You got between 0 and 3 answers correct

OH DEAR! Time to pay more attention to regional development and Western Region Issues. You’ll have to do some extra study over the holiday! Reread the WDC Insights blog and check out the WDC publications page and re-take the quiz in the New Year!


Happy Christmas!

blog christmas tree





Helen McHenry