Billion Irish euros for Northern Ireland revealed – again…

TODAY’S Irish News splash is hardly an exclusive – after all, Slugger predicted that Northern Ireland would benefit from the Republic’s National Development Plan to the tune of a billion euros back in November, and we probably weren’t the only ones. Nevertheless, Billy Graham’s better-late-than-never story fleshes out the detail a little before Tuesday’s announcement, and still beats the other local dailies. The story is below the fold.Ahern’s €1bn plan for north

EXCLUSIVE

By William Graham Political Correspondent

A ‘NATIONAL development plan’ by the Irish government is expected to promise more than E1 billion of investment in new strategic projects in the north and cross-border links – including the road network.

This is the first time that the national plan has included a section on Northern Ireland and it is seen as a significant development.

The spending of more than E1 billion of southern taxpayers’ money in the north and along the border is a key element in the development of cooperation throughout the island.

It also aims to underpin the peace process by bringing huge investment and creating jobs.

This investment does not come with a list of conditions but the hope is that a new power-sharing executive in the north with locally elected ministers will be put in place to take forward the package’s potential benefits.

The Republic’s foreign affairs minister, Dermot Ahern, has been pressing for some considerable time to have an all-island dimension in the national plan.

The Irish News understands that the plan, which will be unveiled on Tuesday, will earmark investment for the roads network – to be completed by 2013 – linking Dublin, Belfast and the north west including Letterkenny to Derry.

This plan may also include further development of the Dublin to Belfast rail line, such as increasing the number of services, with consideration being given to an integrated rail network serving other areas, north and south.

The Irish government will invest in the development of the City of Derry Airport. Around E7.5 million has already been committed on a joint-funding basis.

The plan is likely to refer to building on a cooperative approach in trade, tourism and investment promotion.

This will recognise the benefits of pooling resources to support companies on the island in foreign markets and on joint trade missions.

The introduction of a single electricity market in November and the completion of a second north-south interconnector by 2012 may also be referred to.

In the health sector it is expected the plan will underline the need for increased cooperation on health promotion and improving access to services in border areas.

Of considerable importance will be the idea of maximising the potential for cross-border cancer services. A section will make provision for the upgrading of higher education capacity.

The question of restoring the Ulster Canal at a cost of more than £100 million – to link the Erne waterway with Lough Neagh – may also be referred to.

  • Yokel

    All the money makes sense, just as the likes of countries on the continent run joint investment programs for mutual benefit.

    Though I would say one thing 1 billion, very eye catching number…. and a mere fraction of the total amount outlined over the total plan.

  • PeaceandJustice

    It’s OK for the Government of a foreign state to help rebuild Northern Ireland – especially given their involvement in protecting Sinn Fein-IRA death squads who tried to destroy it. However, it’s not in the interests of peace to include the money in a ‘NATIONAL development plan’. We are not part of their nation. While they SAY that they respect the will of the people in Northern Ireland, their words and actions suggest otherwise. Do they want true peace, or perhaps they are still hoping to take over Northern Ireland without the consent of the people?

  • Comrade Stalin

    I wonder exactly how the unionists will react to this (though it is not the first time the Irish government has spent money here. Part of the road upgrade between Newry and the border is being funded by the Irish exchequer).

    It’s a clever way to try to get the unionists on board. Help them out by funding improvements to the quality of life in their country. Money talks.

  • foreign correspondent

    Does this mean Derry getting a motorway before the end of the century, to finally join the ranks of other Irish metropolises like, er, Randalstown and Dungannon?

  • anon

    even borders can’t stand in the way of progress

  • manichaeism

    Peace and Justice,

    Do you know the effect that your “troubles” up there had on the economy of the rest of this island.

    “Troubles” that mainly involved UK citizens by the way!

    It’s Northern Ireland that should be compensating the Republic with a billion!

  • Jeremy

    manichaeism – in fairness the north is a state funded basket case economy so the south cant really ask for anything. It would’nt feel right.

    PeaceandJustice
    well dont drive on any roads built by the NDP funds. It would be a pricipled statement much admired by all. The first step off the Queen’s highway is the road to Dublin.

  • John East Belfast

    Jeremy

    I notice Republicans like yourself taking pot shots at both the NI Football team and yours above on the NI economy.

    Despite the fact that under the circumstances both are doing very well thank you.

    However is this the best the once great Irish Republican movement can do – the odd sneering comment whilst you accept partition and its structures for as long as the majority in the 6 counties say so ?

    I almost feel sorry for you all

  • Jeremy

    JEB – The North’s economy is hardly anything to be proud of, the football team is though. How you can defend the economy is flabbergasting? It is a basket case. Disagree with a united Ireland etc. but if you want the north to last the course you would need to recognise the problems with the economy fast or else its going to go from bad to worse. If you tell me that the south’s health care system sucks I am not going to accuse you of being narrow minded. I would rather agree and demand it be changed. Would it not make sense for folks up north to proceed in the same way.

  • West Tyrone

    I do hope the Dublin Govt’s money isnt wasted on Derry airport. Its a basket case – a good road to Toome (which UK Govt is committed to) and it will fold.
    Come to think of it it will probably fold anyhow.
    Long live donnybrewer!

  • John East Belfast

    Jeremy

    The northern economy is booming at present and its inherent structural problems will be addressed accordingly.

    20 years ago the ROI was an economic basket case – things change.

    As I said “under the circumstances” – old industry and emerging from 30 years of terrorism aimed at destroying the economy.

    That we need to do better is not unnoticed by those of who care

  • BeardyBoy

    John

    I can assure you the economy is not booming – ask anyone in the business sector – investment is falling.

    THere is a crisis developing because Number 11 is cutting back on the civil service and this will take a fortune out of the local economy – the priveate sector will never take it up.

  • Billy

    JEB

    On the NI Football Team, as I have said on another thread – it has taken the best part of 20 years for NI to go above the RoI in the world rankings. I (and many others) don’t think it will last too long but that remains to be seen.

    On the NI economy – your comments are just laughable. BOOMING!! – how exactly do you see an economy that depends on almost 2 BILLION of govt handouts annually as booming?

    The “Spongers” in NI (to quote the late Harold Wilson) have got away for years without paying for water or proper rates. Now that the UK govt (as part of their gradual withdrawal) are asking people in NI to stand on their own financial feet, we can’t hear ourselves think for the whinging.

    In case you hadn’t noticed, the UK govt is gradually trying to disengage from NI and save itself billions.

    Over 70% of NI income is provided by the public sector and, as someone else has said above, the UK govt (Gordon Brown) in particular are determined to cut back on wasteful public spending. NI is a PRIME target.

    The days of Unionism doing what it wanted in NI and being funded with no questions asked by the UK govt are long gone and won’t ever be coming back.

    If people like you don’t want the RoI investment that’s fine. However, I don’t think that most people are like you – they can see the benefits of this investment and aren’t going to cut off their noses to spite their faces.

    The all Ireland dimension is growing. Only the most bigotted of businessmen is going to turn down investment or profit purely because it comes from the BOOMING RoI.

    This investment will be made, the six counties need it. They will benefit and it will strengthen the interdependence of the six counties and the 26.

  • Crataegus

    This is undoubtedly good news and should be seen as a rational approach in the interests of everyone on this island. Investment in transport, tourism, energy grid and health benefits people both sides of the border. If you live in Donegal what airport do you use? If you travel up the Shannon on a cruise would it not be good to be able to head to Lough Neagh and then up the Bann.

    Often we indulge in wishing the other part of the island north or south bad fortune, but this approach is akin to hoping your neighbour catches the a contagious plague. It is in the interest of the South that the North prospers and visa versa. I have no doubt that the Northern economy will recover in time it has been through 30 years of pointless destruction and it takes a while for the money for investment to build.

    Good news and hopefully it will herald in a new era of cooperation.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The all Ireland dimension is growing. Only the most bigotted of businessmen is going to turn down investment or profit purely because it comes from the BOOMING RoI.

    In defence of JEB, I don’t think anyone is shouting out to turn down this proposal of investment. Most pragmatic unionists will readily concede that our economy is closely tied to that of the South and that it will benefit those of us up here to encourage and strengthen those ties. I know of several unionist-voting businessmen whose work regularly takes them across the border.

    I would have thought that an orthodox republican would be likely to see this investment proposal as propping up the “failed Northern state”. I imagine that there will be republican voices who will object to this plan.

    The points being made about public sector dependence up here are certainly true, and that is all going to have to come to a stop. However, with the right political leadership and encouragement of investment, I think we can build an economy to rival that of the RoI. I lived in Dublin for a year, and while I like the place a lot, I think up North we have a work ethic and a service culture mentality that does not exist in the South. This is nothing to do with religion or politics, it is just a cultural difference people at this end of the island have. Remember that Belfast during the industrial revolution was growing at a phenomenal rate, far quicker than Dublin; for a long time (before partition at least, and almost certainly after) Belfast was the powerhouse of the Irish economy. As JEB said, things change.

  • Nevin

    Is it not likely that the money will be allocated on a basis that suits nationalist prejudice rather than in the best interests of everyone here?

    Also, the previous massive overspend on the Belfast-Dublin rail link led to a lack of resources for the rest of the NIR network.

  • C-X

    Billy McHypocrite;

    “On the NI economy – your comments are just laughable. BOOMING!! – how exactly do you see an economy that depends on almost 2 BILLION of govt handouts annually as booming? ”

    The Northern Irish economy grew faster than any other part of the British Isles this year including the republic.

    And also you do realise how many TENS of billions of pounds of my tax money and the taxes of my British and European colleagues built your economy from the third-world country it was 35 years ago through a quango like the EU so don’t pretend that Irish nationalism is just what the economy needs.

    If anything, now that we hav Bulgaria and Romania to look after…you should maybe start saving for a rainy day 😉

  • Comrade Stalin

    Is it not likely that the money will be allocated on a basis that suits nationalist prejudice rather than in the best interests of everyone here?

    It’s their money, so they’re free to spend it as they wish. It would be pretty silly though – nationalist money is worth the same as unionist money, and if they want to strengthen cross border trade then you would expect it to be spent in a way that maximises return on investment.

    Also, the previous massive overspend on the Belfast-Dublin rail link led to a lack of resources for the rest of the NIR network.

    I imagine you will find that comment difficult to substantiate, given that the Belfast-Dublin rail link was paid for directly out of EU funds.

    The NIR network was run into the ground by the train-hating civil servants who, if they had their way, would happily rip the whole thing up and build roads instead.

  • me

    thanks for the billions C-X.we appreciated it and now were trying to return the favour:)

  • John East Belfast

    Billy

    “On the NI Football Team, as I have said on another thread – it has taken the best part of 20 years for NI to go above the RoI in the world rankings. I (and many others) don’t think it will last too long but that remains to be seen.”

    Did International football start sometime from the lates eighties or something ?

    Before the ROI team got an English Manager who was also an expert in geneology NI had already made it to three world cups – Sweden, Spain and Mexico – How many had the Republic made it to ?

    Not to mention its list of world class players including arguably the best goalkeeper the world ever saw and of course our own Geotge Best.

    There are actually many who see what the ROI did in the Charlton era as a one off and NI is returning to its position as the best team in Ireland.

    However I dont boast about such things as football fortunes come and go – all I can say is that over a 50 year period ours have come a bit more than the ROI’s – however I wish all teams on Ireland well as I am not filled with your obvious prejudice.

    beardyboy, jeremy, billy

    “I can assure you the economy is not booming – ask anyone in the business sector – investment is falling.”

    Well you can ask me if you like as I am someone who is involved and our Order book is booming. Indeed this was supported by a business survey released just last week.
    Meanwhile our unemployment level has fallen below the UK average.

    That we have places to go – yeah we know that but we are headed in the correct direction.

    Also for Billy who, in a similar vein as NI football, was trashing the history of NI economy versus ROI.

    I applaud the celtic tiger and long may it continue – all of us on the island have done very well out of it.
    However once again it is a 20 year phenomenon.

    When our southern cousins were kicking shuck around the fields Belfast the 3rd biggest contributor to the British Exchequer after Calcutta and Liverpool.
    Not to mention the largest ship building industry, largest textile amchinery manufacturers, largest rope making industry in the world.
    We created the finest ships the world has seen and punched above our weight in early 20th century engineering and industry.

    Do you not think that work ethic can be recreated ?
    I do and I see it around me.

    And as I said amazing considering the Provos kicked the shit out of our economy for 30 years.
    BTW I have sort of made it a self rule that I wont feel the need to justify the current state of the NI economy to any Shinner.
    As far as I am concerned SF have relinquished for about a generation the right to criticise the NI economy and if they had any self respect they would keep stum about that.

    Regarding this £1b ‘gift’ – will what you can expect is a polite thank you. However you will get absolutely nothing else from the unionists for it – no influence no nothing.

    I hope the ROI taxpayers are aware of the fact that their taxes are paying to underwrite projects in another fiscal jurisdiction with money that could be spent on Dublin hospitals.

  • Jeremy

    JEB,
    Good to hear your biz is going well. Fair play.

    “I hope the ROI taxpayers are aware of the fact that their taxes are paying to underwrite projects in another fiscal jurisdiction with money that could be spent on Dublin hospitals”

    The Dublin govt. needs to create areas of development on the western side of the country. Places like Derry need to become economic hubs otherwise Donegal will struggle and so will the other border counties. Balancing Development is a requirement for Dublin. The reality is that the south cannot afford to wait for the North to balance its development. Hence the money which will assist the south as much as the north.

  • dub

    JEB,

    Your comments are always interesting and refreshing for their lack of begrudgery and sectarianism.

    All the more strange then do i find your comment that this investment will win roi govt no influence in the north with unionists…

    The influence of the roi govt in the north is alrady enormous and the roi govt does already have a lot of influence with unionists and this will only increase as the north stabilises.

    There may never be a united ireland.. what we have now is already almost an agreed ireland with cross border trade and investment becoming the norm… this is all to the good.

    I guess i am surprised by your comment because it indicates a defensiveness which is really unnecessary.

  • John East Belfast

    dub

    I am not aware of the detail of this but the way it is being reported is that the ROI Govt will be funding a road build via NI ?

    In my opinion the way that these things should work out is that the ROI govt should say to the NI Assembly look we would like to put a road to Donegall. It makes sense that it goes through your jurisdiction. We know that such a road via your jurisdiction is not required by you because the real end point in Donegall is of no interest to you.
    However you will get some benefits which the Cost benefit analysis will indicate the numbers. We will then contribute to the difference.
    We respect your jurisdiction and of course our road engineers will liaise closely with yours etc.

    What wouldnt happen is they announce it as part of their ‘national’ strategy.

    It shows disrespect and lack of protocol and any unionist will treat it with suspicion.

    Also other than saying a suspicious thank you what other influence do you think this should have over unionists ?

  • kensei

    “The Northern Irish economy grew faster than any other part of the British Isles this year including the republic.”

    Well, according to this: http://www.finfacts.com/irelandbusinessnews/publish/article_10008683.shtml, NI growth should be in the 3% range. But according to this: https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/print/ei.html

    The Republic’s rate should be over 5%. Sorry I can’t find better data on the growth rate here.

    “And also you do realise how many TENS of billions of pounds of my tax money and the taxes of my British and European colleagues built your economy from the third-world country it was 35 years ago through a quango like the EU so don’t pretend that Irish nationalism is just what the economy needs.”

    Done this already this week. It’s ignorant.

    “If anything, now that we hav Bulgaria and Romania to look after…you should maybe start saving for a rainy day 😉 ”

    They tried, but then bickering between Britain and France ended up giving the Republic 7 Billion.

  • PeaceandJustice

    “manichaeism – Do you know the effect that your “troubles” up there had on the economy of the rest of this island.”

    Well, if the Government of Eire hadn’t sheltered members of the Sinn Fein-IRA death squads, the “troubles” wouldn’t have went on for so long. Think of people like Owen Carron from Fermanagh who was caught with an AK-47 machine gun, jumped bail and then fled across the border where he took up a job teaching. One can only think of how many young minds he has polluted given his support for the murder of Protestants and Security force members in Northern Ireland. So the successive Governments of Eire have a lot to answer for. Helping to re-build Northern Ireland is the least they can do. But they should give the money without any strings attached and it shouldn’t be part of their National Development plan given they are a foreign country. If Eire wants to be a friendly neighbour, they should start acting like one.

  • Crataegus

    John of East

    the ROI govt should say to the NI Assembly look we would like to put a road to Donegall. It makes sense that it goes through your jurisdiction. ……………………….. What wouldn’t happen is they announce it as part of their ‘national’ strategy.

    Good point. In the interest of good relations the Republic needs to be a lot more careful about protocol. Imagine the fuss if Westminster decided as part of its national strategy to fund a road across Monaghan.

    Also agree with your point about supporters of SF running down the NI economy after spending decades bombing it and doing their best to destroy it. I would have a lot more sympathy for them if they said look the NI economy is weak primarily because we destroyed it.

    Like you I think the economy will recover, but it takes a while for businesses to build the resources necessary to move forward and cooperation and a stronger economy North and South benefits everyone and need not have political strings, in fact should not. We should keep politics out of business.

  • eranu

    never mind all this north southery whataboutery !this 1 billion euros is good news for all, dont twist it…
    whats more important is the drop in the euro/pound exchange rate. 1 euro has dropped from about 69p most of last year to about 65p for the last month or so. thats a drop of about 40,000,000 pounds if my sums are right…

    at this rate, by the time bertie actually opens his wallet, we’ll be lucky if 1billion euros will get us a new set of traffic lights never mind a road !

  • moyle rover

    crat,
    do you seriously think that Bertie announced this without talking to Tony first. Just because he did not discuss it with anyone in the north does not mean it was not agreed with westminster. As for Westminster building roads in Monaghan, Bertie being pragmatic politician he is would be delighted and spin it to look like he had personally conned Tony out of a load of cash.
    I just wish Bertie would decide Coleraine was a major irsh city and build a motorway from there to Dublin

  • George

    Yokel has a point. This is 1.2 billion out of a National Development plan that could end up spending in the region of 175 billion.

    JEB,
    It’s easy to trot out one Ulster Bank report and subsequently declare that Northern Ireland is booming. All the old problems are still there.

    The percentage of economically inactive has actually risen from 27.0 to 27.5% over the last quarter, compared with 21% in the UK.

    That means there are over 280,000 people in NI who don’t want to or don’t have to or can’t work.

    Manufacturing output in Northern Ireland decreased by 0.9% in 2006 compared to a 1.8% increase in the UK as a whole.

    Tourism figures show growth of just 2% in 2006 with visits from Britain falling by 10%.

    That’s before we wheel out public sector dependence or the fact that Northern Ireland is still only at 80% of UK GVA, the same as it was 10 years ago.

    Sure, some things are better but none of the really hard economic pills have yet been swallowed.

    Without this medicine, Northern Ireland will never be truly competitive.

  • Crataegus

    Moyle

    As for Westminster building roads in Monaghan, Bertie being pragmatic politician he is would be delighted and spin it to look like he had personally conned Tony out of a load of cash.

    I’ll concede that one, your assessment of Bertie is spot on.

  • Crataegus

    George
    Sure, some things are better but none of the really hard economic pills have yet been swallowed.

    We both know that there are 3 main areas of problems;
    1Structural. The structures within the Assembly are dysfunctional and will make difficult decisions hard to take. (If ever there is an Assembly)
    2Inadequate devolution. Financial control is not devolved.
    3The empires that are the civil service are continually trying to morph and expand to find new fields and controls. It will be a Herculean task to reverse this trend. They absorb more and more time and control more facets of endeavour.

    However I would be more optimistic. There is a better attitude in the business community in NI now than say 10 years ago and 30 years of bombing does take time to recover from. Hard to appreciate the difficulty caused by 30 years of making do and trying to come out from a low base unless you have experienced it. It takes time to start to get off the ground. Also the likes of the Omagh bomb and continuing perceptions of a divided community did, and do, real damage to tourism. Also remember that activity in NI may well show up as turnover in say the SE region. It depends where companies are based. When we compare NI as a region against the Republic as a country we are not necessarily getting clear comparisons.

    I feel it is improving and attitudes are better, it is on the mend, but the lumbering problem is political rather than the commercial will. We have a long way to go, but the politics of the place is a mill stone. As far as I am concerned the whole lot of them are a liability a waste of space. There is little in the manifestos of any of the political parties in the North that would inspire commercial confidence. They are collectively cocooned and are detached from reality.

  • Elvis Parker

    Couple of points – most of the spending in the North by the south will be for mutual benefit i.e. there is something in it for the South not just a handout to the North.
    E.g Ballygawley- Omagh Road, etc is to help Donegal. Likewise the cancer centre at Altngelven – it is unforgivable that women in donegal are opting for mastecomy rather than face the travel to Dublin.
    Both will also benfit the North – great!

    The Ulster Canal project has been assessed more times than enough – every time it has proved not to make ANY sense – BUT I think the NDP is talking about LOOKING at it again – my guess is that commonsense will prevail.

    Derry City airport – to satisfy the whingers in Derry the Irish and British Gvot (and local ratepayers)have poured millions into this project and it is still a disaster. I hope the GovtS hurry up and dual the road from Toome to Derry and shut this stupid excuse down