‘Ireland 2016: Centenary Programme’ Provides Unique Opportunity to Pursue Wide-Ranging North/South Commemorative Engagement


On 20 May 2015 the Centre for Cross Border Studies attended a briefing, hosted in conjunction with Queen’s University’s School of History and Anthropology, the Community Relations Council and the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, on the Government of Ireland’s plans for commemorations in 2016. At this event programme Director John Concannon unveiled an impressive range of events linked to the ‘Ireland 2016: Centenary Programme’.

The Programme is underpinned by five overlapping themes: ‘Remembering’, ‘Reconciling’, ‘Presenting’, ‘Imagining’, and ‘Celebrating’. Moreover, the delivery of the programme encompasses seven wide-ranging strands, including: ‘state ceremonial’, ‘historical reflection’, ‘the living language’, ‘youth and imagination’, ‘cultural expression’, ‘community participation’ and ‘global and diaspora’.

Concannon highlighted that the programme is the product of extensive consultation and engagement with a wide variety of stakeholders, ranging from Government Departments to local authorities, community groups and numerous constituent parts of civil society.

The programme is committed to engage with the different traditions on the island of Ireland and to recognise the different competing narratives. CCBS welcomes this briefing as representing, what Concannon referred to as, “an open invitation” for organisations and individuals to participate and contribute across both sides of the Irish border.

Concannon also stressed that, given the contested nature of the events being commemorated in 2016, namely the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme, the programme aims to create a space for debate, discussion and dissenting opinions. CCBS recognises the value of this programme in providing a unique opportunity to connect peoples, cultures and heritage across both sides of the border while promoting the need for reconciliation and sharing resources.

Given that the Northern Ireland Executive’s ‘Together: Building a United Community’ strategy recognises the significance of the Irish ‘decade of centenaries’ (running from 1912 to 1923) CCBS views this as an opportunity for the Northern Ireland Executive to facilitate and promote greater engagement with the programme. Only through wide-ranging North/South engagement will the programme truly fulfil its objective to be “measured and reflective and informed by a full acknowledgement of the complexity of historical events and their legacy, of the multiple readings of history, and of the multiple identities and traditions which are part of the Irish historical experience.”

European Rural Parliament 2015 Northern Ireland Workshops

Rural NI: Your Place Your Voice
European Rural Parliament 2015 Northern Ireland Workshops


Rural Community Network is partnering with 29 other organisations across the EU to feed into the 2015 European Rural Parliament scheduled to take place at the start of November in Scharding in Austria.

The overall purpose of the EU Rural Parliament is to:

1. To strengthen the voice of the rural communities of Europe, and to ensure that the interests and well-being of these communities are strongly reflected in national and European policies.

2. To promote self-help, common understanding, solidarity, exchange of good practice and cooperation among rural communities throughout Europe.

The purpose of the workshops in NI is to inform discussion at a NI rural parliament event which we plan to hold in October. This, in turn, will inform deliberations and delegates who will attend the EU Rural Parliament in November in Austria.
Workshops will take place in June as follows:

08.06.15 Houston’s Mill, Broughshane, Co Antrim 7.00-9.30pm
09.06.15 The Courthouse, Markethill, Co Armagh 7.00-9.30pm
16.06.15 Benedy Community Centre, Dungiven, Co Derry 7.00-9.30pm
17.06.15 Fermanagh House, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh 7.30-10.00pm
18.06.15 RCN offices, 38a Oldtown St, Cookstown 7.00-9.30pm
30.06.15 The Lodge Castlewellan Co Down 7.00-9.30pm

The workshops will be interactive and will seek the opinions of a wide range of rural dweller. Come along and ensure your voice is heard on the issues that matter to you.

To register your attendance contact Teresa on 028 8676 6670 or email teresa@ruralcommunitynetwork.org

To find out more about the European Rural Parliament 2015 contact Aidan on 028 8676 6670 or email aidan@ruralcommunitynetwork.org


CCBS presents to Oireachtas Joint Committee

Yesterday (12th of May 2015) the Centre for Cross Border Studies contributed to a session of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, which was dedicated to the theme of the All Island Economy.

Briefing session at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Briefing session at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

In his presentation to the Committee, Anthony Soares, CCBS’s Research and Policy Manager, noted the need for an integrated approach to the development of an All Island Economy, and that economic development should be seen as part of a wider Wellbeing Framework, with the public and community voluntary sectors regarded as economic drivers or enablers rather than simply as sources of expenditure. He also stressed that an effective All Island Economy should not only be of benefit to citizens in both jurisdiction, but that it should also address existing geographical disparities in terms of socio-economic indicators and general wellbeing, and that the establishment of a Border Development Corridor is an essential cornerstone in North-South economic cooperation.

The presentation underlined the importance of strategic leadership at all levels in order to identify and exploit the benefits of cross-border and all-island cooperation in the development of relevant policies in both jurisdictions, but also expressed concerns at the threat to such cooperation – and to an All Island Economy – represented by the UK’s possible exit from the EU.

Also taking part in this session were InterTradeIreland, Newry and Mourne Enterprise Agency, Mr Padriac White (Chairman of the Border Development Corridor Steering Committee), and Mr Michael Burke (independent economist).

Download a pdf copy of CCBS’s presentation and full written submission.



The Future of Cross-Border Cooperation in a rural context


The Rural Community Network’s latest edition of Network News was dedicated to considering what the future may look like for rural communities, with several contributors from a range of sectors offering predictions for trends in their particular areas of expertise. Anthony Soares, CCBS’s Research & Policy Manager, contributed a piece entitled “Bordering on the Future”, in which he considers the challenges and opportunities for rural communities to engage in cross-border cooperation. Among the opportunities he identifies is the possibility for rural communities to identify areas for cross-border cooperation to be included in local authorities’ community development strategies and Peace Action Plans. However, he also notes that such opportunities can only be realised with the full commitment of those with executive responsibilities in both jurisdictions on the island of Ireland.

Click here for further information.

CCBS Supports the Need for a Statutory Duty for Rural Proofing

The Centre for Cross Border Studies has today published its response to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s public consultation on policy proposals for a Rural Proofing Bill.

Rural proofing has been a commitment of the Northern Ireland Executive since 2002 and is part of the existing policy-making process across government in Northern Ireland. It is designed to ensure fair and equitable treatment of rural communities so that policies do not have a detrimental impact on rural dwellers. The purpose of the Rural Proofing Bill is to strengthen the existing policy requirements around rural proofing. CCBS is supportive of the need for rural proofing to be placed on a statutory footing.

Evidence suggests that the present non-legislative approach to rural proofing has not been as effective as first envisaged. Therefore, CCBS is confident that legislating for the process will strengthen and underpin the Executive’s commitment. It will also serve to improve the effectiveness of this process and ensure that the needs of rural communities are appropriately considered in the development of policy and delivery of public services.

CCBS welcomes any legislation which helps to address the needs of rural communities, particularly those rural populations within the border region, who face unique challenges as regards to access to public services, infrastructure provision, rural and urban connectivity, business growth and unemployment. Likewise, people living close to each other but across the border have also been affected by distinctive policy asymmetries, including with regards to rural proofing. Indeed, to date the approach taken to rural proofing in the Republic of Ireland has been more robust than that in Northern Ireland. From the publication in 1999 of the Republic of Ireland’s White Paper on Rural Development, its broad principles and policy commitments have been represented in two plans; the ‘National Development Plan (NDP) 2007-2013’, and the ‘CAP Rural Development Programme 2007-2013’.

While CCBS supports the need for this statutory duty to be placed on all government departments, local councils and Executive non-departmental public bodies, we also maintain that the statutory duty should explicitly require the relevant duty holders to mitigate any adverse impacts where they are identified when developing new or existing policies. Our concern is that the statutory duty, currently worded as “to consider the needs of people living in rural areas” risks the prospect of having the needs of rural communities considered but without compelling any action to mitigate adverse impacts identified.

Lastly, we are confident that the success of the proposed legislative approach to rural proofing hinges upon creating a statutory role for DARD to promote and encourage other bodies to engage with rural proofing. CCBS endorses the view that DARD must play a role in ensuring training is provided to build the capacity of policy makers in other departments, local councils and NDPBs to ensure effective implementation, as well as the training of rural stakeholders to ensure effective scrutiny of rural proofing practices.

Click here to access the full consultation response.

CCBS Toolkits for Budgeting and Evaluation of Cross-Border Projects

The Centre for Cross Border Studies has launched two new toolkits designed for cross-border project managers.

The Toolkit for Budgeting of Cross-Border Projects and its companion publication, the Toolkit for Evaluation of Cross-Border Projects are both part of a strategic package of linked training, animation, mentoring and research activities to support public service deliverers, particularly local authorities. They are both products of the INNICO-2 project (the Ireland Northern Ireland Cross-Border Cooperation Observatory), which was funded under the EU INTERREG IVA Programme. The Aims and Objectives of the INICCO-2 project coincide with the overall objective of the INTERREG Programme to support strategic cooperation for a more prosperous and sustainable region, contributing to the development of a dynamic economy and improving access to services and the quality of life for those living in the Irish cross-border region. The aims of INICCO-2 are:

  • To increase and strengthen cross-border cooperation for a more prosperous and sustainable border region and more efficient delivery of public services through addressing information and skills gaps among actors in the region.
  • To contribute to the increased social, economic and territorial cohesion of the Irish CrossBorder region through:
    • promoting and improving the quality of Cross-Border Cooperation between public bodies, and between public bodies, business and civil society; and
    • improving the capacity of people involved in social and economic development of the Irish Cross-Border region to better align their objectives and outcomes with the priorities of EU Cohesion Policy and Europe 2020.
The Toolkit for Budgeting of Cross-Border Projects and the Toolkit for Evaluation of Cross-Border Projects are intended primarily to support funded projects – in private, public or community/voluntary sectors or cross-sectoral partnerships – which are challenged by the requirements of delivering cross-border (or transnational) projects.


These toolkits have been designed to complement and be used alongside the Impact Assessment Toolkit for Cross-Border Cooperation. The Evaluation and Budget toolkits also complement the InterCultural/Cross-Border Project Management Toolkit published in 2014 in collaboration with the Centre’s partners in the Transfrontier Euro-Institute Network (TEIN), funded through the EU Leonardo Programme. These four innovative Toolkits together comprise a portfolio of tools to support cross-border cooperation throughout the entire cross-border project life-cycle. We are confident that they will be of benefit to cross-border projects on the island of Ireland, and indeed are easily transferable to other cross-border and transnational projects elsewhere. Through this transfer and adaptation we will contribute to the professionalization of actors, a better quality of projects, more positive attitudes towards transfrontier collaboration and improved working and living conditions for citizens in border areas across the EU and beyond. Like their companion toolkits, both the Toolkit for Budgeting of Cross-Border Projects and the Toolkit for Evaluation of Cross-Border Projects are user-friendly, practical resources that will guide both experienced and less experienced cross-border project promoters through the steps of:
  • preparing a budget for their project and setting up appropriate financial monitoring and reporting mechanisms; and
  • planning for the project evaluation – including managing both self-evaluations and external evaluations.

Download The Toolkit for Budgeting of Cross-Border Projects (PDF 1.4MB).

Download The Toolkit for Evaluation of Cross-Border Projects (PDF 3.1MB).


CCBS Intercultural/Cross-Border Project Management Toolkit

The Centre for Cross Border Studies, working as part of the Europe-wide PAT-TEIN project, has launched a new toolkit designed for cross-border project managers.

The Intercultural/Cross-Border Project Management Toolkit in the Irish Cross-Border Territory aims to equip those involved in the management of cross-border or transnational projects with the skills and knowledge needed for the successful implementation of cross-border interventions. It is set within a context of cross-border cooperation on the island of Ireland that has been developing in the light of two principal sets of policy imperatives:

  • EU Territorial Cohesion Policy, EU Territorial Cooperation and other Structural Funding, particularly the PEACE Programmes; and
  • The commitment to cross-border cooperation made in Strand II of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

The Intercultural/Cross-Border Project Management Toolkit is a recognition that successful cross-border cooperation is not based on good will alone: it needs those who are involved in it to have a set of specific skills and approaches. These are what this Toolkit provides.

Find out more about the toolkit on the PAT-TEIN Website.

Download the toolkit directly here (PDF 4.3MB).

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


Google and Flanders Field Museum
In conjunction with
The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade and
The Department of Arts Heritage and An Gaeltacht

A small number of bursaries are on offer to enable students to work on records of soldiers from Ireland who died during WW I. Fellows will be expected to spend two weeks at the Flanders Fields Museum, Ypres/Ieper, Belgium, where the Irish records are held and a further two weeks under the direction of the Museum connecting with local historians in Ireland.

The project aims to fill in the missing gaps of concerning the 50,000 fallen soldiers from Ireland. Until recently, records of these casualties were located only in a book released in 1923 and published in a mere 100 copies. Google has worked with the Irish genealogical history and heritage company Eneclann and the In Flanders Fields Museum Belgium to build a new Irish memorial website, making a list of war dead from Ireland available online and making it searchable with this simple tool.

Launched in 2014, the website remains incomplete. Many names are missing or marked incorrectly. The aim of the Student Bursaries is to correct the errors.The bursaries for the fellowships will cover return flights from Ireland (vouched travel costs up to a ceiling of €150) and a stipend of €200 per week for four weeks in the period July-September, inclusive.

The Fellowships will be awarded to the highest placed candidates in an essay competition.
Please write up to 750 words on the subject,
“What World War I Means to Ireland”.
CLOSING DATE IS 5.00pm, Monday 16 March 2015.
Application forms are available here

Universities Ireland 2015 North/South Postgraduate Scholarships – Applications Now Open

Universities Ireland is offering four scholarships, each of worth €15,000, to students who have been accepted to undertake a recognised Master’s Degree or are entering the first year of a PhD programme at a university in the island of Ireland that is not in the same jurisdiction as the university where they have previously studied. The aim of this scheme is to encourage outstanding students from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to cross the border to undertake postgraduate study and experience life in the other Irish jurisdiction. Strict eligibility rules apply.

Application forms and guidance notes (including eligibility criteria) are available on the Universities Ireland website (www.universitiesireland.ie).

Closing date for applications is 5 pm on Friday 29th May 2015.


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