Dublin Belfast economic corridor to be launched

Updated / Wednesday, 24 Mar 2021 06:38

The concept of the corridor has been around since the 1990s and a number of successes have been achieved in the areas of employment opportunities, peace-building and the rolling out of new transport infrastructure

By Brian Finn

A new initiative that aims to foster closer economic ties between the Republic and Northern Ireland is being launched today.

The Dublin-Belfast economic corridor is the culmination of three years of work between eight local authorities from both sides of the border along with Dublin City University and Ulster University.

A partnership steering group of the Chief Executives of the local authorities, as well as the heads of the two universities, have been meeting every three months to develop a series of cooperative initiatives and projects with the aim of realising the cross-border project.

The concept of the corridor has been around since the 1990s and a number of successes have been achieved in the areas of employment opportunities, peace-building and the rolling out of new transport infrastructure.

There are a number of international examples of such corridors including in the UK, across Europe and East Asia.

Most have evolved from partnerships based purely on transport infrastructure into more complex economic zones that are seen as being attractive to inward investment as well as acting to tackle regional disparities.

The project comes against the backdrop of the twin challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and the end of the Brexit transition period which has seen the introduction of a new trade regime between Britain and Ireland.

The latter is complicated further by the Northern Ireland protocol, which aims to avoid a hard border on the island while facilitating unfettered access for Northern Irish goods to the Great Britain market.

However, it has caused tension in Unionist communities who are seeking the removal of the protocol.

Today's virtual launch which will be attended by the Northern Ireland Finance Minister, Conor Murphy, as well as the Tánaiste and Enterprise Minister, Leo Varadkar, and the Housing Minister, Darragh O'Brien.

The next steps for the Dublin Belfast Economic Corridor will be the establishment of an Oversight and Governance Board. 

This will comprise of 24 councillors, three from each Council, and shortly after the launch event they will hold their first meeting to elect a Chair and develop a programme of works.