ICLRD has continued to develop its institutional working arrangements, to network its various researchers, to build linkages and networks with the public and private sector across the island of Ireland, and to facilitate the development of new networks such as the North/South Forum for Sustainable Communities.


European Spatial Planning Observation Network (ESPON)

“ESPON is an INTERREG funded multinational planning and related information research project. It has a European and international focus and seeks to inform a better understanding of spatial and territorial cohesion policies in the EU. The National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis (NIRSA) was the national contact point for the Republic of Ireland for the programming period 2000-2006 – and will remain so for the new programming period 2007-2013 which has just been launched”.

The All-Island Research Observatory (AIRO)

AIRO is a research unit and interactive spatial data portal based at one of ICLRD’s founding partners, the National University of Ireland, Maynooth (NUIM). The Observatory works with different partners to undertake applied mapping research and develop all-island, spatial datasets and specialist tools to aid their analyses. AIRO also acts as integral resource for ICLRD and the Irish Social Science Platform (ISSP), and recently published The Atlas of the Island of Ireland.

AIRO aims to act as a single point of access to a wide variety of spatial data and information about the various regions Ireland.  Maps and interactive tools will be made available to planners, policy makers, researchers and those interested in gaining an understanding of the dynamics that are shaping the Island of Ireland today. The Observatory works under the guidance of the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis (NIRSA) and the National Centre for Geo-Computation (NCG), AIRO has been funded by the Higher Education Authority under Cycle 4 of the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutes (PRTLI4).

Mission Opérationelle Transfrontalière (MOT)

MOT is a Paris-based organization supported by the French Government and local authorities that facilitates cross-border projects at local level, by favouring territorial integration on either side of the borders between France and its many EU neighbours. MOT has a new initiative, EUROMOT, which is bringing together other cross-border groups beyond the French borders. ICLRD and MOT have been cooperating over the last two years.

Strategic Planning Action Network (SPAN)

The ICLRD, through its partner the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis was involved in the Strategic Planning Action Network (SPAN) Project funded under the EU Interreg IIIB programme. The SPAN activities supported transnational co-operation in the field of spatial development based on the policy options of the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP), the Spatial Vision for North West Europe, and the Guiding Principles for Sustainable Spatial Development of the European Continent – each of which gives prominence to securing indigenous development and balanced growth within the context of polycentricity and a new urban-rural partnership.

Further information on the SPAN initiative is available from the National Institute for Spatial and Regional Analysis (NIRSA) at

The Observatory on Local Authority (OLA)

The OLA-network has the mission to study changes in local government systems across the European Union. The OLA-studies have a comparative dimension since these systems are examined amongst and within each other in order to display the concepts of local autonomy and subsidiarity that characterise governance in Europe.