The Centre Roars Back with New Funding and a New Shared Blog

Nearly two years ago I wrote a ‘Note’ saying that the Centre for Cross Border Studies had 15-18 months funding left, we were starting to feel a little nervous, and were appealing to our readers and supporters for some good new ideas for cross-border cooperation in Ireland.

In the event we generated most of those new ideas within the Centre’s four walls in Armagh, with my colleague Ruth Taillon coming up with a disproportionate share of them.  These ideas – nine of them in all – were combined into a package of research, evaluation, training and information projects during the first five months of 2012 which was submitted to the Special EU Programmes Body for INTERREG funding last May. In November we received the hugely welcome news that eight out of the nine would be funded, starting on 1st February 2013. 2012 was a slightly difficult year – with the cupboard a bit bare and a number of staff working reduced hours – but we are now raring to get into our 2013-2015 work programme.

The eight projects cover a range of areas. ‘Towards a Border Development Zone’ builds on a proposal that came out of John Bradley and Michael Best’s 2012 study, Cross-Border Economic Renewal: Rethinking Regional Policy in Ireland – to explore the potential of a joint  economic development approach across the whole Irish and Northern Irish border region.  It will involve five linked studies of how to develop an overall Border Development Zone strategy (to be led by local authority chief executives in the North and county managers in the South), plus individual studies of four possible development sectors in the region: 1) SMEs with export potential; 2) tourism and recreation; 3) agriculture, food and fish processing; 4) low carbon initiatives, energy saving and renewable energy.

Three of the projects will be run by the Centre’s ‘sister’ organisation, the International Centre for Local and Regional Development (ICLRD). These will: 1) engage local authorities in the cross-border region in new shared services initiatives, including pilot projects in areas like tourism and environmental and emergency services; 2) continue the ICLRD’s training and animation programmes in cross-border cooperation for local authority groupings; and 3) update and provide training in a number of tools including an updated all-island digital atlas and an all-island deprivation index, using data from the 2011 censuses in both jurisdictions.

There will also be training in and further development of the Centre’s highly regarded 2011 Impact Assessment Toolkit for Cross Border Cooperation. New budget and evaluation toolkits will be developed to help people who are applying for EU funding for cross-border cooperation projects, and then implementing such projects.

The Centre will join with the cross-border region health authorities’ network, Cooperation and Working Together (CAWT), to develop and train people in the use of a tool that will map the provision of acute health specialities on the island of Ireland.

The final project will be a third phase of the highly successful Border People cross-border information service, which the Centre has been running in partnership with the North South Ministerial Council’s Joint Secretariat since 2007. This phase will focus on working with citizens’ advice and information bodies in the two jurisdictions to train existing advice workers to provide practical cross-border information for people crossing the border to live, work and study.

Another new initiative with which the Centre is involved will be launched on 1st February. A group of individuals working in peacebuilding, peace research, cross-border and cross-community organisations have come together to discuss how they might use 2013 to reflect on the successes and failures of the 15 year period since the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, and how we might all learn from those experiences to do better in the future.

The group – calling itself ‘15 Years On’ – consists of Peter Sheridan (Cooperation Ireland), Avila Kilmurray (Community Foundation for Northern Ireland), Professor Brandon Hamber (INCORE, University of Ulster), Susan McEwen (Corrymeela Community), Colin Murphy (Glencree Community),  Neil Jarman (Institute for Conflict Research), John Driscoll (ICLRD), Professor Jennifer Todd (Institute for British-Irish Studies, UCD), Ruth Taillon and myself.

We are beginning a year-long conversation about the progress of peace and cooperation in Northern Ireland and Ireland, and where we should go from here. We plan this conversation to take place largely online, leading to a culminating event towards the end of the year. The discussion will also feed into a session on 26 May at the big Rotary/INCORE Global Peace Forum in Derry. Members of the group and others who are interested will be invited to post regular blogs and comments on a new shared blog page ( on issues to do with the Northern Irish peace process. Please join us in this important conversation. It is open to everybody.

Andy Pollak


  • Interestingly there will be a new website setting up which will be about a Shared Future and has sent a tweet to bloggers asking for contributions.
    Certainly a worthwhile venture and I wish it .
    But just how “open” can an open conversation be? Can it ever really include individuals rather than representatives of Institutes and organisations? Can “open” ever include the skeptical?

  • aquifer

    Without cable those houses in Cavan/ Leitrim will stay empty.

  • @Andy Pollak,

    This is kind of off of the subject, but is my best chance to get in touch with you. I’m seriously thinking of applying for a U.S. Institute of Peace research grant to look into the possible lessons from Ian Paisley’s post 2005 conversion to power sharing for dealing with the Israeli Right. You aren’t listed as a co-author with Ed Moloney on the updated version of your original joint Paisley biography, so I don’t have your take on Paisley’s conversion. My email is

    Please email me, I can send you a copy of the draft proposal if you want. I’d like to get your take on Paisley’s conversion, since it was so at variance with what you and Moloney wrote in 1986. I’d also like to get from you any suggestions on people to interview.