Towards a Border Development Zone

This research project, building on the proposals of the 2009-2012 action research project Cross-Border Economic Renewal: Rethinking Regional Policy in Ireland, will explore the potential of a joint economic development approach across the whole Irish and Northern Irish cross-border region. Its three specific aims, to be carried out through five scoping studies and an action conference, are to:

  • Stimulate a form of development that is uniquely adapted to the region, making maximum use of national and provincial resources in the two jurisdictions;
  • Stimulate the evolution of local resources and expertise, as identified in Cross-Border Economic Renewal, particularly by building on the experiences of the successful border region firms identified in that study;
  • By focussing on building the capacity of local authorities in both jurisdictions to promote this process, develop more effective public sector cross-border collaboration with the aim of having a major economic impact on the region.

The five studies will be:

  1. overall Border Development Zone strategy and structure; [PDF 116Kb]
  2. SME enterprise in goods and services with an export potential; [PDF 28Kb]
  3. tourism and recreation; [PDF 213Kb]
  4. agriculture, food and fish processing; [PDF 137Kb]
  5. low carbon initiatives, energy saving and renewable energy. [PDF 51Kb]

CCBS’s main partner in this project will be InterTradeIreland. The action conference will be held in January 2014, and out of it will come working groups in the five areas to work  on an implementation plan for incorporation into a funding application to the 2014-2020 INTERREG programme.

This project is supported by the INTERREG IVA programme (2013-2015).

CRoSPlaN-2 Shared Services, Executive Training and Animation Programme and Evidence-based Planning

 CRoSPlaN-2 Shared Services

This project will be led by the Centre’s ‘sister’ organisation, the International Centre for Local and Regional Development (ICLRD). The benefits of harmonising cross-border planning in specific regions along the Irish border is something that has already been recognised by both Irish administrations (e.g. in the North-West Gateway initiative) and in the outputs of CroSPlaN-1 (part of INICCO-1) in the areas of inter-jurisdictional planning in Ireland and abroad; river basin management, and shared services. 

This phase will expand on the research into shared services in Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Canada and the US. It will:

  • Engage public bodies in the Irish cross-border region to identify areas for implementation of shared services;
  • Develop two shared services pilot projects with cross-border region councils in areas like tourism, environmental services, emergency services and spatial planning;
  • Build on existing ICLRD research and facilitate collaboration between local councils and government in the two Irish jurisdictions to begin to implement it;
  • Promote exchange of good practice with councils elsewhere  in Ireland and Europe.

The project’s activities will include one cross-border action research project; one conference; three thematic seminars and one technical workshop; two local authority initiatives supported; a learning network established; new Service Agreement prototypes developed; and online resources tailored to the needs of local authorities in the region.

CRoSPlaN-2  Executive Training and Animation Programme

This project will be led by the ICLRD. It will continue the training and animation programmes undertaken by the ICLRD for the three cross-border local authority groups – EBR, ICBAN and NWRCBG – in the 2009-2012 period. Its aims are to:

  • Raise the awareness of the importance of operationalising spatial planning linkages between EU and central government territorial policies and territorial cooperation among cross-border region local councils;
  • Provide best  practices to develop solutions to common problems through joint actions;
  • Address cross-border institutional fragmentation by developing collaborative frameworks to strengthen cooperation between border region councils;
  • Build the capacity of local councils to  jointly articulate and present their initiatives to central government departments;
  • Complement the work of the three local authority cross-border groups by supporting emerging initiatives in areas such as tourism and economic development.

The project’s activities will include 10 training events; one strategic cross-border local authority initiative supported; 90 local government officials, councillors and community leaders trained; one solution to a cross-border problem addressed through joint action.

CRoSPLaN-2: Evidence-based Planning

This project will be led by the ICLRD. Its aims are to:

  • Provide compatible 2011 census data from Ireland and Northern Ireland in an online and user-friendly format to support collaboration between central government departments in both jurisdictions and between local authorities in the cross-border region, and to present the policy implications of such data;
  • Update the all-island pilot deprivation index developed in INICCO-1 using the 2011 census data;
  • Provide analytical tools that will support evidence-based spatial planning on a cross-border basis;
  • Train practitioners, officials and elected representatives in the cross-border region in the use and interpretation of data;
  • Facilitate exchange of best practice in data capture among councils in the cross-border region.

The project’s activities will include the development of two new tools (an all-island digital atlas mapping the 2011 censuses and an updated all-island Deprivation Index); five seminars and four ‘data days’ to train 110 practitioners, policy makers and cross-border region officials and councillors in data use and interpretation.

These projects are supported by the INTERREG IVA programme (2013-2015).

Budget and Evaluation Toolkits for cross-border cooperation

This project will contribute to a portfolio of tools to support cross-border cooperation in order to:

  • Improve the capacity of people involved in the implementation of EU programmes and projects
  • Improve the efficiency and quality of funded projects;
  • Improve the learning from funded projects

Two new tools will be developed: an Evaluation Toolkit and a Budget Toolkit for Cross-Border Projects.

This project is supported by the INTERREG IVA programme (2013-2015).

Impact Assessment Training and Mentoring

Following its highly-regarded Impact Assessment Toolkit for Cross-Border Cooperation (developed in INICCO-1), the Centre will assist EU-level efforts to streamline and simplify the application, monitoring and evaluation procedures of Structural Fund programmes (INTERREG and others) by delivering a package of capacity-building training and monitoring support to applicants and potential applicants. The project’s aims are to:

  • Assist projects on the island of Ireland funded under EU cross-border, inter-regional and transnational programmes to better align their objectives and outcomes with the priorities of Cohesion Policy and Europe 2020;
  • Contribute to improving the quality of applications to INTERREG and other European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) programmes, leading to higher quality projects;
  • Strengthen the positive impacts of such programmes through improving the capacity of Irish and Northern Irish people to implement them through their projects;
  • Contribute to improved monitoring and evaluation of such programmes and projects;
  • Contribute to improved articulation and documentation of EU cross-border, inter-regional and transnational programmes so as to capture and share the learning from them and their projects.

The project’s activities will include 30 training events (both group and one-to-one sessions) with 100 beneficiaries trained in the use of the Impact Assessment Toolkit.

This project is supported by the INTERREG IVA programme (2013-2015).

Mapping Acute Specialities

The aims of this project are to address a gap in information about cross-border and all-island acute health specialities by:

  • Developing a geodatabase that maps acute health specialities on the island;
  • Training health professionals in the use of this mapping tool (two seminars to be held for 20 people).

The Centre’s partner in this project is the Cooperation and Working Together (CAWT) cross-border network of health authorities.

This project is supported by the INTERREG IVA programme (2013-2015).

Border People cross-border mobility information service

This will be the third phase of the Border People online information service, which provides citizens’ information for people crossing the border to live, work or study (the pilot website which became was launched in 2007). It provides information on cross-border taxation, social security, job seeking, qualifications, health, education, housing, banking, telecoms and other practical areas. The website currently receives a monthly average of 17,000 page views, and 60 direct inquiries (by phone or email) per month.

The aims of the 2013-2015 phase of the project are to:

  • Through training, to embed the provision of cross-border mobility information into the practices of mainstream citizens information providers – notably CAB (NI) and Citizens Information Board (Ireland);
  • To provide cross-border mobility information as an essential component of a common travel zone and labour market in Ireland and Europe;
  • To correct misinformation regarding the complex issues raised when somebody moves across the Irish border to live, work or study.

The project’s activities will include ‘training for trainers’ events and training days to train 40 advice workers in existing organisations to become competent to advise on cross-border mobility issues. There will be ‘user group’ meetings, briefing papers on cross-border mobility issues and a plan developed to integrate the Border People service – with continued support from the Centre for Cross Border Studies – into existing citizens information services in the two jurisdictions by 2015.

The partners in this project will be the North South Ministerial Council Joint Secretariat; Citizens Advice Bureaux (Northern Ireland) and Citizens Information Board (Ireland).

This project is supported by the INTERREG IVA programme (2013-2015)


BORDER PEOPLE cross-border mobility information website (PHASE TWO)

This is the second phase (2009-2012) of the Border People ( information website, being developed in a continuing partnership with the North/South Ministerial Council Joint Secretariat. This project is led by the Centre for Cross Border Studies’ IT manager, Joe Shiels, and information officer, Annmarie O’Kane.

The website provides citizens information for people crossing the border to live, work, study or retire. It provides information on cross-border taxation, social security, job seeking, qualifications, health, education, housing, banking and telecommunications. In 2011 the website received a monthly average of 6,880 unique visitors, 7,531 visits and 15,836 page views.

During 2011 two Border People User Group meetings were organised in Monaghan and Letterkenny in collaboration with the IBEC-CBI Joint Business Council under the title ‘Developing your Cross-Border Business.’ At a seminar in Dublin in November 2010, the international lawyer and expert on EU mobility issues (and the Irish representative on the European Network on Free Movement within the EU), John Handoll, said:

In my practice and research into free movement issues, the Border People website has become an essential tool. More importantly, its clear and user-friendly design allows citizens on both sides of the border to access up-to-date information on key topics. It has evolved over time in response to citizens’ needs and has become a first port of call for those seeking to understand their rights.

Phase Two has allowed for a much more systematic dissemination and marketing of information and public feedback on cross-border mobility issues, assisted by an active and enlarged User Group drawn from a range of citizens advice, employment advice, local authority, business and community organisations. Performance is being reviewed against agreed targets for information content, along with regular statistical website reports to evaluate demand and usage. A regular survey tests whether the interests of users are being matched and how well the various website features are working. 92% of users in a 2010 survey said that they  ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ with the statement that Border People is ‘an important and valuable resource’ for people living and working in the Irish border region.

Phase Three of Border People was submitted as part of the INICCO Phase 2 INTERREG funding application in May 2012 for the period 2013-2015. It will include a programme of training and capacity building to prepare the existing citizens advice bodies, Citizens Advice NI and the Citizens Information Board (RoI), to integrate the Border People service into their mainstream provision after 2015; and research into patterns and issues of mobility across the Irish border.

The Steering Group for this project is drawn from the North South Ministerial Council Joint Secretariat, the Centre for Cross Border Studies, the Department of Finance and Personnel (NI), the Department of Social and Family Affairs (RoI), Citizens Advice Northern Ireland, Citizens Information Board (RoI), and the Eures Cross-border Partnership. User group meetings on specific topics of concern to cross-border workers and other interested people are organised every six months at a location in the border region.

The Cross-Border Spatial Planning and Training Network (CroSPlaN)

This network, organised by the Centre’s sister organisation, the International Centre for Local and Regional Development (ICLRD), brings together an  alliance  (CroSPLaN) of planners, economic development officers, local authority officials, councillors, and community and business interests on both sides of the border to promote more systematic learning and exchange in planning.

 CroSPlaN’s  three year (2009-2012) programme consists of the following:

  • Six applied research projects. These have been on the inter-jurisdictional planning implications of the NI Review of Public Administration and on tri-national planning in the Basel region of Switzerland, Germany and France (Year 1); river basin management and spatial planning in Connecticut (USA) and the Elbe basin (Germany), and in Ireland’s cross-border region (Year 2); and shared services in Scotland, Spain, Canada and New York State, and examples drawing mainly on the Irish cross-border region (Year 3).
  • One executive training programme per year for cross-border region local councillors, council officials and business leaders. The first course, in the Louth-Newry and Mourne region, ran from November 2009 to May 2010; the second, in the North West, ran from October 2010 to March 2011; the third, in the Irish Central Border Area Network (ICBAN) region, ran from October to December 2011.
  • One technical workshop per year
  • One annual conference

During this time ICLRD have also used the CroSPlaN programme to produce – with partners such as the the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis (NIRSA) and the All-Island Research Observatory (AIRO) at NUI Maynooth – a significant number of other innovative outputs, including an all-island Accessibility Mapping Tool; an all-island Housing Monitoring Tool; and all-island Deprivation Index; and an all-island Spatial Monitoring Framework.

The Steering Group for CroSPlaN brings together planners, planning academics, cross-border cooperation specialists and cross-border local authority network representatives from the Planning Service (NI), the Border Region Authority (RoI), Leitrim County Council, the National Institute of Regional and Spatial Analysis (NIRSA) at NUI Maynooth, University of Ulster, the Irish Central Border Area Network (ICBAN), the Centre for Cross Border Studies and the ICLRD.

Further information is available from the ICLRD’s website at

Exploring the potential for cross-border hospital services in the border region

 This project led to the publication of two reports on how cross-border hospital services might help to provide  mutual benefits for the people of the Irish order region.

The first of these, carried out by CCBS Deputy Director Ruth Taillon, was published in October 2010 under the title Exploring the Potential for Cross-Border Hospital Services in the Irish Border Region: The role of community involvement in planning hospital services

This report featured feedback from 11 focus groups in the border region and a range of patients and medical professionals. Case studies of service users and campaigning community groups in three areas were undertaken: cancer care in the North-West; cystic fibrosis in the two jurisdictions; and the campaign for a hospital in Omagh. Among the recommendations were that Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) concepts in hospital planning should be properly implemented; service users from both jurisdictions should be involved in the planning of new services at Altnagelvin (Derry/Londonderry) and Enniskillen hospitals; and service users should have full information about their entitlement to services in the other jurisdiction.

The second report was Unlocking the Potential of Cross-border Hospital Planning on the Island of Ireland: A Prototype Modelling Framework, by Shane McQuillan and Vanya Sargent of the Dublin consultancy firm Horwath Bastow Charleton. This report was launched in Belfast on 15 December 2011 (at a North South Research Forum meeting) by Tom Daly, Director General of Cooperation and Working Together (CAWT) and Dean Sullivan, Director of Planning and Performance at the Northern Ireland Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety.

The report concluded that while there are significant barriers to the development of cross-border acute healthcare, these can be ‘worked around’ where it makes sense for  improved patient services to do so. The study analysed five sample clinical service areas where there is potential for cross-border collaboration: orthopaedic surgery, ENT surgery, paediatric cardiac surgery, cystic fibrosis and acute mental health services. It also produced a prototype modelling framework for cross-border acute healthcare services, incorporating both qualitative and quantitative factors, to help plan the development of such services. The report also noted that the new South West Acute hospital in Enniskillen offered a ‘significant opportunity’ for cross-border service provision.

The report was published in the same week as the Compton Review into health and social care in Northern Ireland, which suggested a number of cross-border initiatives, including specialist paediatric services to be provided to Northern patients by Southern hospitals, and patients from the South, particularly along the border, being treated for some cancers in Northern hospitals.

Both these reports are available on  the Centre’s website (

The Steering Group for this project brought together health and cross-border cooperation specialists together from the Institute of Public Health in Ireland, the Health Research Board (RoI), the Health Service Executive (RoI)(observer), Cooperation and Working Together (CAWT), the Irish Patients Association, the Patient Client Council (NI), the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland, the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs (observer), the Centre for Cross Border Studies and the University of Warwick.


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