The Northern and Western Regional Assembly (NWRA) has called for a stimulus package of more than half a billion euro to prevent what it terms the "economic stagnation" in western and border counties.

The assembly says the funding is needed to tackle regional inequality and to promote more balanced development across the whole country.

It is seeking at least €570m for this purpose and has called on the Government to adopt a policy of positive discrimination for the rollout of infrastructure contained in the National Development Plan.

The NWRA brings together local authorities from counties Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Mayo, Galway, Roscommon, Cavan and Monaghan.

It is one of three such regional assemblies, one taking in the south of the country, the other being responsible for the east and midlands.

In its pre-budget submission, the NWRA says a legacy of underinvestment has led to the region being categorised as "lagging" by the European Parliament.

This is the term used to refer to development challenges, such as low productivity, a weaker business environment and poorer educational outcomes.

GDP per capita across the region is between 75% and 100% of the EU27 average, making the west and border areas the only region in Ireland to hold such a status.

The NWRA says the gap in disposable income per head of population between the Northern and Western Region and the Eastern and Midlands Region of Ireland, as a percentage of the State average, was 25 percentage points in 2021. This compares with a gap of 10% in 2010.

The assembly's economist, John Daly, says the adoption of a positive discrimination policy for the region is urgently needed to address the current eastern-focused regional imbalance.

Mr Daly said without access to modern roads, public transport, health and port services, the west and border region would never be able to provide a meaningful counterbalance to the rapid expansion of the Greater Dublin Area.

The NWRA envisages that a multi-million euro investment package could be used for high-value economic activity, as part of a wider effort to keep people living and working along the border and the western seaboard.

Mr Daly said a stimulus fund would kickstart essential development and help start to reverse economic stagnation.

In addition, the representative body is seeking a Citizens’ Assembly to examine how greater levels of regional autonomy can be delivered.

It says the model of centralised Government has led to greater inequality and disengagement in rural regions.