Creating Spaces for Cooperation


Creating Spaces for Cooperation: Crossing Borders and Boundaries before and after Brexit

The pending exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union has far-reaching consequences for the political geography of the island of Ireland. In the period since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement (GFA), the island of Ireland has emerged as a coherent functional space with extensive effort gone into the development of shared cross-border spaces for cooperation at community, local authority, regional and inter-jurisdictional levels. The International Centre for Local and Regional Development (ICLRD) among other organisations has played a key role behind the scenes, in fostering spaces for cooperation in spatial planning and local and regional development within the border region. The shared border region, and indeed the idea of the island of Ireland as a functional space may both be understood as soft, non-territorial spaces. They are informal spaces, located outside the regulatory sphere of nation-state territoriality but very much located in shadow of territory and dependent on formal territorial relations, including in this case the GFA. It is likely that in the post-Brexit context such soft spaces will acquire increased significance at all scales from that of the island of Ireland to the border region to the local scale of inter-municipal and community level cooperation.

As part of the 50thConference of Irish Geographers (CIG), held in Maynooth University on 10-12thMay 2018, Dr. Cormac Walsh (University of Hamburg) and Dr. Gavan Rafferty (Ulster University) organised an ICLRD-sponsored Conference Session on “Creating Spaces for Cooperation: Crossing Borders and Boundaries before and after Brexit”.  This conference session sought to bring together papers addressing the potential implications of Brexit for the island of Ireland and border region from a local and regional development and/or political geography perspective.


Dr. Cormac Walsh, University of Hamburg and ICLRD

Brexit Geographies, Soft Spaces and Relational Territorialities

Ms. Caroline Creamer, MU/ICLRD &

Dr. Brendan O’Keeffe, IAR/ICLRD

Spatial Planning and Development in a Post-Brexit Landscape – Local Issues and Learning from Other External EU Borders

Dr Gavan Rafferty & Dr Neale Blair (UU/ICLRD) Functional Geographies for Cross-Border Cooperation before and after Brexit
Andrew McClelland (MU/ICLRD) Spaces for Public Participation: valuing the cross-border landscape in North West Ireland


The papers presented by Creamer & O’Keeffe and Rafferty & Blair as part of this session draw heavily on research being undertaken as part of the project ‘Models of Spatial Planning and Development in a Post-Brexit Landscape: Collaborating across External Borders’. This research is funded through a grant award from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade ‘Reconciliation Fund’.