Third Annual ICLRD Conference – Fostering Co-Operation for Local and Regional Development through Cross-Border Spatial Planning

Armagh, Co. Armagh
17 January 2008

The International Centre for Local and Regional Development (ICLRD) third annual conference was held in collaboration with InterTradeIreland at the Armagh City Hotel on January 17, 2008. The conference focused on how long term economic success coupled with high quality of life on the island of Ireland can be achieved by harnessing the potential of sustainable communities which transcend the border.

The ICLRD’s  Third Annual Conference invited international planning, economic and community development experts to examine how cross-border spatial strategies can foster greater co-operation for development North and South. The conference was attended by 143 delegates representing local and central government, cross-border agencies, the private sector and community organisations.

The conference, supported by cross-border business development body InterTradeIreland, was opened jointly by Batt O’Keeffe TD, Minister for Housing, Urban Renewal and Developing Areas, and Conor Murphy MP MLA, Minister for Regional Development.

“Sustainable communities transcend the border and we must develop and implement initiatives to harness this potential,” said Mr O’Keeffe.  “The collaborative spatial framework between the Regional Development Strategy and the National Spatial Strategy provides the over-arching mechanism to deliver, and can set the context for thinking and working together.

“The Irish Government has placed the NSS centre-stage by setting it as the main plank on which to base future investment decisions.  Moreover, many sectoral programmes are now prioritising investment in the nine NSS gateways and nine hubs to build critical mass in these cities and towns.”

Mr. Murphy said he could clearly see the benefits of co-operation in the provision of infrastructure and services to citizens – by working together, both governments could provide better health care, better prepare young people for work, and better protect and manage the environment.

“There are considerable growth challenges North and South, but there are many similarities in the trends that we measure,” he went on. “Solutions will require very positive attitudes, long term planning and co-ordinated actions if we are to achieve long term economic success coupled with high quality of life.

“Our over-arching aim is to focus and harness economic development, regeneration and prosperity within a just, peaceful and stable society.  We will do this by addressing head-on decades of underinvestment, regional imbalance and inequality so everyone can enjoy a better quality of life now and in the future.”

Aidan Gough, Strategy and Policy Director of InterTradeIreland, identified enhancement of our global competitiveness through co-operation as one of  the organisation’s key objectives.

He said:  “Joined-up regional and local planning initiatives, along with targeted investments and a programme of spatial planning research, are paramount in promoting economic competitiveness, aiding sustainable development, improving services and supporting the mobility of a growing population on the island.”

Among the key issues and research papers presented at the all-day conference were how to implement and finance a collaborative spatial framework, proposals and project areas which can deliver on a cross-border sub-regional strategy for Newry-Dundalk, research and recommendations on how cross-border towns can be reconnected and revitalised; and the role of housing in building sustainable communities.

Professor Rob Kitchin, director of the National Institute of Regional and Spatial Analysis, National University of Maynooth, also introduced The Atlas of the Island of Ireland – Mapping Social and Economic Change, launched by Tommie Gorman, Northern Editor of Radio Telefis Eireann.

Pamphlet and order form for the Atlas of the Island of Ireland

Conference Report
Conference Programme
Speech by Minister Batt O’Keeffe, TD
Speech by Minister Conor Murphy, MP MLA
Sustainable Balanced Communities - Nicolas Retsinas
Introduction to Fostering Cross-Border Cooperation Panel - Dr. Francois Vigier
Financing Cross-Border Collaboration - David Gavaghan
Financing Cross-Border Co-operation - Dermot Nolan, Department of Finance
Newry-Dundalk Twin City - Professor Jim Berry and Dr. Chris Van Egeraat
The Newry-Dundalk International Services Zone - Dr. Chris Van Egeraat and Professor Jim Berry
Dundalk 2020: Sustainable Energy Community Project - Declan Meally
The Example of the Energy Self-Sufficient City of Güssing - Declan Meally
Mourne-Cooley-Gullion: Releasing the Potential - Martin Carey
Introduction: Small Connected Towns in Cross-Border Areas - Caroline Creamer and Neale Blair
Study: Small Connected Towns in Cross-Border Areas - Caroline Creamer and Neale Blair
Kilty Cashel Project - Elish Gray
Bristol and Leipzig: Driving the Sustainable Communities Agenda - Professor Peter Roberts
Sustainable Communities on the Island of Ireland - Paddy Gray
Housing and Land Issues on the franco-swiss and franco-spanish borders - Olivier Denert
Closing Comments - Alastair Adair

Conference audio files