At the launch of the Border, Midland and Western (BMW) Regional Assembly’s Annual Report 2011 Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D., Minister of State for European Affairs praised the performance of the BMW Regional Assembly in their role as the Managing Authority for the BMW Regional Operational Programme which is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Irish Government. In her address to invited guests at the Assembly’s Chamber in Ballaghaderren Co. Roscommon she stated that the Assembly was an “uncontested success story” in fulfilling their role which has contributed to the social and economic development of the BMW Region.
Minister Creighton highlighted the figures quoted by Mr. Gerry Finn, Director of the BMW Regional Assembly, whereby under the current 2007-2012 programming period the Assembly has reported expenditure of 89% of total funding to-date. The Minister for European Affairs noted that this was achieved in the face of a significantly constrained economic environment and illustrated the Assembly’s flexibility and ability to overcome budgetary challenges as they have arisen.
Welcoming Minister Creighton, Councillor Frank Dolan recently elected Cathaoirleach of the Regional Assembly stated that the Annual Report 2011 details, in a comprehensive manner, the broad range of activities undertaken by the Assembly along with its central role of managing the €458m EU co-funded Regional Operational Programme. The Cathaoireach also acknowledged the tough task facing the Government in their negotiations with the various EU institutions to resolve the current economic and financial problems and expressed confidence in the Government’s commitment to bring about the necessary changes.
Mr. Finn, Director of the Regional Assembly outlined the range of activities undertaken by the Assembly during 2011, this included a major research publication examining the innovation system which included an evaluation of the performance of enterprises and third level colleges within this system. The Director also highlighted the continued roll-out of the Assembly’s €17.15m EU co-financed Gateways and Hubs Scheme. Funding is provided under this scheme for significant urban development projects in the Regions Gateways – Athlone, Dundalk Mullingar, Tullamore, Galway, Sligo, Letterkenny – and in the associated Hub Towns of Ballina, Castlebar, Monaghan, Cavan and Tuam.
Mr. Finn concluded by outlining details of the Assembly’s ongoing participation in the cross-border EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation and also emphasised the potential funding opportunities that exist in a range of European inter-regional projects. The Assembly is the Irish national contact point for three of these programmes. The Director urged organisations to more closely examine the significant advantages gained from participating in these programmes which have provided funding of €23.2m since 2007, benefitting more than 100 Irish public organisations.