A new EU-funded website has revealed that €1.74bn has been invested in cross-border co-operation. The website, www.borderireland.info, will act as a guide to cross-border activities in Ireland and will be maintained by the Centre for Cross Border Studies, based in Armagh.
Border Ireland will have special relevance for communities and organisations seeking to work together on common projects. At present there are cross-border community projects that facilitate reconciliation, tourism, community development and trade. The website will seek to increase and enhance the level of cross-border activity through the hosting of information on funding and best practice in co-operation which will encourage the exchange of ideas and the development of cross-border contacts.
Border Ireland will also carry information on education, health, agriculture, transport, the environment, tourism, business and community development. This information has been sourced from a wide range of bodies including universities, government departments and agencies, North and South, community development organisations and funding organisations.
The website will be maintained by the Centre for Cross Border Studies. The Centre was founded in 1999 to conduct research into cross-border issues such as communications, education, agriculture and a range of other practical research areas. Project Manager Dr Patricia Clarke encouraged all who have a cross-border interest to log on and browse the website:
“The website will identify opportunities for cross-border development and will provide information on sources of funding and other support. There are so many sectors where such information is vital. In 2004, for example, almost 300 new cross-border projects began. Our website will provide opportunities for people and organisations to promote their activities to a range of audiences.”
The site reveals that some €1.74bn has been invested in cross-border co-operation. Of this, some €762m has been invested in cross-border activity by the EU and other funding sources. A further €712m has been spent by the north and south governments to establish the six north/south implementation bodies and Tourism Ireland.
“As the island of Ireland enters into a new era of peace, it is vital that communities and businesses across the island communicate with each other for mutual benefit,” said Minister for Finance Brian Cowen TD. “The challenges of the global market have presented us with unique opportunities to develop a joint approach to issues that matter to citizens in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, including the delivery of an all-island tourism marketing strategy by Tourism Ireland and business development programmes from InterTradeIreland.
“Levels of cross-border trade and travel have been rising in recent years. Some 1.8 million people crossed the border by train or bus in 2004 alone. It is vital that there is easy access to information on cross-border activities for these people and for everyone interested in the progress made by cross-border co-operation. This website will be the keystone for information provision that will enable us all to meet future challenges, be they economic, social or educational,” Minister Cowen said.
By John Kennedy