More decline in North-South relations?

Today’s article by Simon Doyle in The Irish News highlights again the continuing decline in everyday interaction between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

A new taskforce set up the the Department of Employment and Learning has revealed that less than 1 per cent of students at universities south of the border are from Northern Ireland. This trend has continued a decline that has been going on since 2004 despite the fact that it is cheaper to study in the Irish Republic than it is in Northern Ireland or anywhere else in the UK.

This decline is alarming when you consider the universities such as Trinity and UCD have for decades been a major destination for both Catholics and Protestants from Northern Ireland. Moreover, since 2003, there have been massive improvements in the road and transport links between places like Belfast and Dublin. Yet students are opting to pay more to go elsewhere. My question is why?

I remember when I was at school and friends of mine have confirmed to me that it was a similar situation at their schools that the possibility of studying south of the border was rarely mentioned. In addition to this. there was next to no information about courses that were offered. Should we urge our schools to do more to make students aware of what’s on offer in places like UCD and Trinity?

This again is another example of a continuing decline of everday interaction between the two Irish states. Over the past year, I count three North-South projects stalling, a major decline in shoppers coming North and a lack of public interest in the entire process. Where has it all gone wrong?

Update- Courtesy of Phil Flanagan MLA-This issues was examined in Stormont last October http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/Assembly-Business/Official-Report/Reports-12-13/23-October-2012/

 Update- Todays Irish News (3/9/13) has an interesting article on this with comments from UUP MLA Michael McGimpsey who attended TCD. It’s worth buying the paper to read the article and editorial calling for action on this issue in its entirety but here’s an exerpt of what he had to say

‘It would be ashame if young people were being precluded or restricted when they should be encouraged.’  

McGimpsey also spoke about the strong tradition of NI students going to university in the Republic.

David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs