The Good Friday/Belfast Agreement contributed to a successful period of North/South and all-island economic interaction which was characterised by a high level of public and private sector engagement to pursue economic, social and commercial benefits in both jurisdictions. Such engagement and the socio-economic impetus it sustained was seen as helping to provide a context where meaningful cross-border and all-island links could be developed and strengthened, and where growing economic prosperity in Northern Ireland would contribute to a more tolerant and reconciled society. That era of joint economic progress was both partly enabled and contributory to a vigorous debate on public policy stimulated by Sir George Quigley and others, linking the EU policy reforms that had created the “Single Market” with the opportunities to generate additional economic benefit on the island through greater cross-border and all-island economic activity, and to bolster the political process in Northern Ireland.
The Centre for Cross Border Studies identified the need for further research to be undertaken on the outworkings of cross-border economic activity, and the Research and Policy unit therefore began a case-study focused on micro-businesses in the agri-food sector along part of the border corridor. This research is engaging with a range of businesses and related actors within the sector who need to be part of the discussions to secure the future prospects of all-island and cross-border relations. This project is funded by the DFAT Reconciliation Fund. The research findings will be presented at a conference towards the end of 2015.