February 18, 2015

2015 CCBS/ICLRD Joint Conference 2015

The Annual CCBS/ICLRD Conference was held at the Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen on 29 – 30 January 2015.

The conference, Shared Services, Shared Opportunities: New Models of Public Sector Collaboration and Partnership, was focused upon a critical component of the public sector reform agendas on the island of Ireland, which is particularly topical in light of recent and imminent changes in the structure of local government in both jurisdictions.

The conference was the culmination of a two-year programme of work involving the CCBS, ICLRD and other partner organisations under the INICCO II/CroSPlaN II Programme, sponsored by the Special EU Programmes Body under INTERREG IVA. Several significant publications emanating from this programme were formally launched at the conference, which also provided an opportunity to showcase and explore other aspects of the work.

The conference opened with a welcome from CCBS director Ruth Taillon together with  Caroline Creamer, Acting Director, ICLRD, followed by a presentation on the theme of “Shared Services and Local Government: A Transformative Agenda” from Brendan Hegarty, Chief Executive Designate, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.

Read Ruth’s opening speech here here.

The first plenary session followed the theme of “Shared Services, Shared Opportunities”, and was opened with a welcome from chair Andrew McClelland of ICLRD. Professor Greg Lloyd delivered a presentation on the topic of “Shared Services, Shared Opportunities: Austerity, Reformed Local Government and Reduced Budgets”, which was followed by an exposition on “Lessons from Europe” delivered by Martín Guillermo-Ramírez, Secretary General of the Association of European Border Regions. This session concluded with the Launch by Mr Guillermo-Ramírez and CCBS Research and Policy Manager Anthony Soares of the Centre for Cross Border Studies Evaluation and Budget Toolkits for Cross-Border Projects.

Dr Anthony Soares and AEBR Secretary General Martín Guillermo-Ramírez launch CCBS Evaluation and Budget Toolkits for Cross-Border Projects with CCBS Chairperson Dr Helen Johnston and Director Ruth Taillon.

The Second plenary session concentrated on the topic of “Shared Services – A Local Government Perspective”. This session began with a welcome from Dr. Seán O’Riordáin, Director of the Public Policy Advisors Network, before proceeding into a facilitated conversation on the topic of shared services involving Pamela Arthurs, Chief Executive of East Border Region, Liam Hannaway, Chief Executive Designate, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, David O’Connor, Senior Responsible Officer for Public Service Reform, Programme Management Office and Paul Clifford, Director of Economic and Community Services, Monaghan County Council.

The conference’s first day concluded with the launch by Launch by Niall Cussen, Principal Advisor, Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government and Tom Reid, Director of Transport Policy, Strategy and Legislation Division, Department for Regional Development of the AIRO published Atlas of the Island of Ireland, following an introduction by Prof. Rob Kitchin, Professor of Geography, National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis, Maynooth University and Cllr. Thomas O’Reilly, Presiding Councillor, Fermanagh and Omagh District Shadow Council. Conference dinner was followed by an address by Prof. Deborah Peel, Chair in Architecture and Planning, School of the Environment, University of Dundee.

CCBS Chairperson Dr Helen Johnston opens the conference

The following day began with the third plenary session: “Shared Services in Practice – Emerging Agendas for Local Government”. A welcome from chair Dr. Helen Johnston, Chairperson of the Centre for Cross Border Studies, was followed by a presentation by Dr. Conor Murphy, Lecturer, Department of Geography and Senior Researcher, Irish Climate Analysis and Research Units, Maynooth University on the theme of “Climate Change Across Borders: Fairness, Justice and the Governance of Adaptation”. From British Red Cross Joanne McKenna, Senior Service Manager, and Neil McKittrick, Service Manager, presented on “Red Cross research – The Impact of Flooding on People’s Lives: Building More Resilient Communities and New multi-agency Initiatives in Northern Ireland”.

The fourth and final session focused on “Progressing Shared Services – Cooperation, Innovation and Civic Leadership”. A welcome from chair Prof. Mark Boyle, Director, National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis, Maynooth University was followed by three breakout sessions:

  • Low Carbon Agenda, Facilitated by Padraig O’Hora, Senior Executive Engineer, Louth County Council with presentation by Denis Kelly, Senior Executive Planner, Donegal County Council on cross-border low carbon and renewables project.
  • Emergency Management, Facilitated by Finian Joyce, Chief Fire Officer, Leitrim County Council with presentation by Joan McCaffrey, Emergency Planning Co-ordinator, Western Group Environmental Health Service on the Cross Border Emergency Management Working Group and the shared services pilot with the International Centre for Local and Regional Development and the All-Island Research Observatory
  • Sustainable Transport,  Facilitated by Pádraig Maguire, Regional Planner, Northern and Western Regional Assembly with presentation by Gordon Clarke, National Director for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, Sustrans on the potential development of a cross-border regional cycle route network.

Feedback from these sessions was followed by the conference’s closing address on “Place-Based Collaboration – Leadership for a changing world” by Prof. Robin Hambleton, Professor of City Leadership, Faculty of Environment and Technology, University of the West of England with closing comments from Dr. Anthony Soares, Research and Policy Manager, Centre for Cross Border Studies.

CCBS’s Dr Anthony Soares draws the conference to a close