Regions of Ireland: the South-East

                           South-East Regional Authority

Contact:      Mr. Tom Byrne (Director)



Address:     Aras Forbartha,  1 Gladstone Street, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary

Tel:               +353-52-26200

Fax:              +353-52-26512


Profile of the Region

The South-East Regional Authority area comprises the following units of primary local government: Waterford City Council, Waterford County Council, Wexford County Council, Kilkenny County Council, South Tipperary County Council and Carlow County Council - equating to the five counties of Carlow, Kilkenny, South Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford. The region covers an area of some 9,406 sq. kms, or about 13.5% of the area of the State. The current population of the region is 460,838, about 11% of the national population. The region has a uniquely balanced urban structure in the Irish context in that each of the main urban centres in its five counties has a population exceeding 17,000.  In addition, it has a range of what could be described as second and third-tier towns evenly distributed across the region, as well as a strong rural settlement pattern. The regional economy of the South-East is based primarily on agriculture, manufacturing and services, tourism, fishing and aquaculture. A high proportion of manufacturing industry in the South-East Region is foreign owned. The region has good quality transport and other economic infrastructure, three Third Level Education Institutes, a young and highly educated labour force, and with a network of region-wide Industry and Technology Parks, the South-East is an attractive region for investment. The South-East is a region of unrivalled natural beauty, rich in historic and archaeological treasures and abounding in excellent natural amenities, recreation and leisure facilities.  It is a visitor’s paradise, attracting over 2 million people annually.

The South-East Region Authority map

  Socio-economic Data


NUTS level




Area (sq. kms)




% of area of State




Population (2006)




% of national population




Population density (persons per sq. km)




Regional capital (town/city)




Population (2006, incl. suburbs)




Regional GDP (2004)


€ 11,695m


GDP per capita (% of State, 2004)




GDP per capita (% of EU25, 2004)




Workforce (2006)




Participation Rate (2006)




Employment rate (2007)




  Regional Structures


The South-East Regional Authority is one of the eight regional authorities established in Ireland under the provisions of the Local Government Act 1991, (Regional Authorities) (Establishment) Order, 1993. Membership of the Authority comprises 36 elected public representatives nominated by the six constituent Local Authorities within the Region: Carlow, Kilkenny, South Tipperary, Waterford City, Waterford County, and Wexford.  The main functions of the Regional Authority are:

  • to promote co-ordination and, where appropriate, co-operation , joint action , joint arrangements, agreements, communication or consultation between local authorities or other public authorities in the region or between such authorities of other regions.

  • to promote co-ordination, consistency and compatibility with programmes, plans policies, proposals or objectives of the Government or any Minister of the Government.

In carrying out its duties the Authority is assisted by two committees, the Operational Committee and the EU Operational Committee. The Operational Committee’s function is to assist and advise the Authority in the discharge of its functions. Membership is drawn from senior management from Local Authorities and other public service agencies in the region. The EU Operational Committee assists the Authority in matters relating to EU assistance and the monitoring of various EU Operational Programmes applicable in the Region.


  Regional Priorities

Despite having a strong base of indigenous industries and a vibrant overseas industry, concentrated mainly in electronics, precision engineering, pharmaceuticals and healthcare and internationally traded services, employment growth in the region has slowed in recent years and existing deficiencies in the region’s infrastructure, in particular, transport infrastructure, are impacting negatively on the regions competitiveness. To help boost the region's economy the following key priorities have been identified:

  • the development of third-level facilities and courses within the region and the establishment of a University of the South-East

  • improved linkages between industry and third-level educational institutions

  • strengthening of the indigenous industrial sector by promoting opportunities for increased levels of Research and Development

  • improved road, rail and other economic infrastructure, e.g. ports, energy, telecommunications including broadband

  • promotion of the development of the regional airport

  • promotion of innovative public transport systems aimed at improving rural mobility

  • development of the region’s retail sector and reduce leakage of retail spending to urban centres outside the region

  • expansion of the region's tourism sector through the development of visitor attractions with a strong national profile linked to the high quality amenities of the region

  • support for rural development and the competitiveness of the regions agricultural sector in order to address the ongoing decline in agricultural employment

  • support the region’s fishing industry and to develop the potential for marine tourism along the South East’s 434 kms of coastline.

  • development of the region's three major ports, which provide an important opportunity to boost the regions economy.

  • promote the development and use of renewable energy and, in particular, bio-energy.


  European Priorities


In the South-East Region EU projects have enabled the development of representative and inclusive regional and transnational partnerships and cooperation, inclusiveness and participation of actors in a wide range of sectors. EU projects have promoted coordination between the relevant actors enabling them to work towards the same objectives.

The South East Regional Authority is involved in a wide variety of projects across all sectors and areas and is always interested in getting involved in new and innovative projects. Specific priorities for the future include projects and initiatives which can contribute to addressing the above regional priorities as well as those in the areas of information society, entrepreneurship and employment, and regional innovation.


  European Experience


The South-East Regional Authority has considerable experience in participating in and managing EU co-funded projects. Some of the EU co-funded projects in which the South East has been involved in the past 3 years include:

  • SEEDS - funded under Article 6 ESF (Local employment strategies and innovation) and completed in 2005. The objective of the project is to develop a coherent, integrated and co-ordinated employment development strategy for the South-East Region. The overall budget for the project was circa €420,000.

  • Biologic@ - funded under the INTERREG IIIC. The project commenced in January 2005 and aims to promote best practice in organic farming and to access new channels of distribution for organic produce.The lead partner is based in Povoa de Lanhoso, Portugal and regions from Italy, the Canaries, and Switzerland are also participating in the project.

  • FINESTRA - Funded through Article 10 ERDF. The objective was to explore and promote innovative ways of assisting SMEs to maximise their potential to impact on regional socio-economic development. Regions from 6 EU countries participated. The overall budget for the project was circa €3 million.

  • E-BYGOV - Funded through Interreg IIIB Atlantic Area. The objective is to examine how modern communications technology can be used to make government services more responsive, easier to use and more accessible to citizens and businesses.  Regions in Spain, United Kingdom and Ireland are participating. The overall budget for the project is circa €2.5 million

Other projects include (Research and Technological Development), REVOS (social and voluntary sector) and Sport Urban (sport and urban regeneration).

Example of EU Project

Project title:  ‘SEEDS’ (South-East Regional Development Strategy)

EU programme: Article 6 of the ESF

Project Description:

"SEEDS" - South-East Employment Development Strategy is a project co-financed by the European Commission through Article 6 (the innovation actions aspect) of the ESF. The project involves the preparation of an Employment Development Strategy for the South-East Region.  The Regional Authority, in close co-operation and partnership with other socio-economic actors in the South-East will develop the Strategy, based on consultation with a wide range of interested stakeholders.

The project proposes, for the first time, a coherent, integrated and co-ordinated Employment Development Strategy for the South-East region of Ireland, based on a thorough examination of the employment situation in the region, in which new and innovative solutions will be identified to reverse the relatively poor economic performance of the region in comparison with growth rates achieved nationally and by other Irish regions.

The aims of the project is to produce a more precise, comprehensive definition of the employment situation within the region, to establish closer working relationships between various actors participating in the project, to develop an agreed strategy that should provide better focused interventions in the employment area and to ensure the fullest participation possible by all sectors in the strategy formulation process.

EU partners:                    N/A

Total Funding:                 € 418,145

EU contribution:            € 300,170




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