Border Corridor Conference examines key areas of cooperation
Sinn Féin President and Louth TD Gerry Adams has commended party activists from both sides of the border who held a conference in Ti Chulainn, Mullaghbawn in south Armagh to discuss increasing co-operation along the border corridor. The weekend conference was well attended by party activists and elected representatives from the border corridor area. The meeting examined the Derry experience; looked at regional development and cross border integration; the expansion of broadband; and the memorandum of understanding between Newry and Mourne Council and Louth County Council which is the basis for greater co-operation.
The event was chaired by Senator Kathryn Reilly from Co.Cavan. Among those taking part was Conor Murphy, the MP for Newry & Armagh who stated, “We cannot afford to be bystanders, or passengers – we must create conditions on the ground that facilitate reunification. As activists we must get focused, and up our game plan, we must act cohesively. Our comradeship and commitment to the struggle is politically unique on this island – these two things will ensure that we achieve our goals.”
Damian McIlroy gave two presentations which covered a critical examination of the Memorandum of Understanding which allows for the sharing of services between Louth County Council and Newry & Mourne District Council. Damian reminded people that the Border Region “is the most unequal region in the most unequal country in the EU” and that “in order to deconstruct partition you must also tackle regional inequality, the two are synonymous”.
He added, “In the weeks and months ahead we will be developing a new strategy to promote intensive and irrevocable reintegration – rubbing out the border, socially, politically and economically. The purpose of today’s event is a first step in this process. Comrades need to be open minded and responsive to the task ahead.”
Speaking after the meeting the Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams TD said, “Partition has had a hugely adverse impact on communities along the border corridor. It has been bad for the people of Ireland and has held back our potential for economic and social growth. Towns on either side of the border were divided from their natural economic hinterlands. A lack of investment and the application of structured discrimination, especially in the north, has ensured that the border region suffers from higher than average levels of unemployment, emigration and lack of investment. Sinn Féin’s goal is to deconstruct the border – to end partition. We believe that this would work for citizens.”
Adams continued, “The Good Friday Agreement recognised the impediments of the border to bringing about peace and prosperity in Ireland. The establishment of the cross-border and all-Ireland bodies in particular acknowledged the need to foster cooperation north and south in areas such as trade, tourism and competitiveness. Their work has been a success, but much more must be done. Sinn Féin believes that a comprehensive all-Ireland Economic Recovery Plan is needed to deliver equality, prosperity and sustainable economic growth which would include an All Ireland Labour market strategy; greater co-ordination of third level provision to ensure value for money and the creation of national centres of Research, Development and Innovation; increase the resources and role of Intertrade Ireland to further promote all Ireland networks of Research, Development and Innovation for complimentary industries, and much more.”
“Energy costs across Ireland are too expensive and undermine our competitiveness in the global market. As an island nation we have an abundance of wind and tidal power. Research indicates that there is the potential to be energy exporters of sustainable energy. Ireland also needs an all Island approach to promoting Foreign Direct Investment. At present the limited resources of INI and IDA are spread too thin in the global market place and compete for investment in similar sectors. And the cost of the duplication of public services undermines the provision of value for money public services.”
“Republicans believe that uniting Ireland makes sense. A new Ireland – a new Republic – provides the opportunity to achieve democracy in its fullest sense. This would include accepting that citizens have social and economic rights, including the right to a home; the right to a job; the right to a wrap around health service; the right to education; the right to live in a safe and free environment and much more,” Adams added.
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