Updated: 03/10/16 : 06:51:12
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BREXIT can be an opportunity for Sligo and North-West

Sligo and the North-West region can offset any downsides that could come from Britain's exit from the European Union, a meeting of senior policy makers and economists has heard.

But the voices and opinions of all the people in the region need to be listened to during the complicated Brexit negotiations.

The Northern and Western Regional Assembly was the venue last week for a meeting to discuss Brexit and its possible impact.

While acknowledging the possible risks associated with such a move, speakers said communities on both sides of the border can come together to create vibrant local economies.

Leading economist Dr Edgar Morgenroth of the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) accepted an invitation to lead the discussion on Brexit to members of the Regional Assembly.

Cathaoirleach of the NWRA, Sligo representative Cllr Seamus Kilgannon, challenged regional elected members and senior policy developers to analyse potential economic opportunities associated with BREXIT but also to consider and mitigate future risks.

Once Britain triggers an EU law known as Article 50, a two-year programme to exit from the European Union will commence.

Speaking on behalf of the Regional Assembly, Cathaoirleach Kilgannon said: “It is extremely important to mitigate any future risks for our people and communities.

“However, we must also look at the potential opportunities. We need to ensure our county and region along the border is insulated against any future political and economic decisions made in Brussels.”

David Minton, Director of the Northern and Western Regional Assembly, recognised the potential impact on communities.

Speaking at the event, he said: “Most importantly we now have cross border communities who together create vibrant local economies.

“Border communities can look to the future as social, cultural and economic exchanges, and create places without any divide.

“The voice of these communities need to be strongly considered in future BREXIT negotiations.”

The views of Sligo and the North West were underlined this week when Cllr Kilgannon met with EU Commissioner Corina Creţu, Head of Regional Policy at the Programme of Regions Conference in Brussels.

Holding one of the most influential briefs in the EU Commission, the Commissioner was extremely interested to understand more about the possible local impact both for communities but also for EU funding in the region.

Cllr Kilgannon extended an invite to the Commissioner to visit the region in 2017 and get a first-hand understanding of the issues.

The Northern and Western Regional Assembly (www.nwra.ie) plays a leading role in aligning European Investment with Regional Economic priorities. Its main aim is to enhance regional competitiveness through Innovation, Investment and Infrastructure. The Assembly consists of elected representatives from Sligo, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan, Cavan, Roscommon, Mayo, Galway City and County. Working as a region the Assembly is committed to delivering locally.