June 2, 2009

Second phase of cross-border mobility information website launched in Armagh

Border People User Group (1) – A better understanding of cross-border mobility statistics

2 June 2009
Armagh City Hotel, Armagh

The second phase of the Border People online information service (www.borderpeople.info) for people wishing to move across the Irish border to live, work and study was launched in Armagh on Tuesday 2 June 2009. The service is managed by the Centre for Cross Border Studies in partnership with the North/South Ministerial Council and is funded by the EU INTERREG IVA programme.

Border People, whose first phase was launched by the Deputy First Minister, Mr Martin McGuinness, in May 2008, is a public information website – the first of its kind on the island of Ireland – structured around the four themes of Commute, Work, Live and Study.

At the Border People User Group meeting were (from left to right) Pat Donaghy, Deputy Joint Secretary, North South Ministerial Council, Fiona Johnston, Assistant Statistician, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, Steve MacFeely, Director of Business Statistics, Central Statistics Office and Joe Shiels, Border People Project Manager

It features sign-posting information on taxation, social security, job-seeking, qualifications, health, education, banking, telecommunications and other areas of interest to citizens moving across the border to live in the other Irish jurisdiction. The website’s second phase (2009-2011) will be further developed to meet the ever increasing demand for cross-border mobility information. It will be publicised through a multi-annual marketing campaign to bring it to the public’s notice, particularly in border regions.

The launch event – at the Armagh City Hotel at 2 pm – was addressed by officials of the Irish and Northern Irish statistics offices, who will tackle the issue of different statistical and legal systems in the two jurisdictions which make measuring cross-border activities difficult.

Mr Steve MacFeely, Director of Business Statistics at the Central Statistics Office in Cork, spoke on the problems of capturing and quantifying the flows of activity across the border at a time when they have increased hugely because of the more peaceful and stable political environment.

He outlined the extraordinarily wide range of cross-border activities, from the legitimate trade in goods and services to smuggling and other criminal activity. He talked in particular about the challenges of measuring cross-border tourism and transport. He also discussed potential new cross-border data sources such as data from road cameras, motorway tolls and credit cards.

Ms Fiona Johnston of the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) looked at the Northern Ireland Neighbourhood Information Service (NINIS), a dedicated website providing access to local area statistics across Northern Ireland, and how it might link into a cross-border system.

The attendees at the User Group were:-

Paul Cunningham Assistant Principal, EU International Section, Department of Social and Family Affairs
Josette Cuthbert Regional Manager, Citizens Information Board
Pat Donaghy Deputy Joint Secretary, North/South Ministerial Council
Eimear Donnelly Project Administrator, Centre for Cross Border Studies
Marie Hayes Development Manager, County Louth Citizen Information Service
Paul Herink Director of Information Services, Citizens Advice Bureau Northern Ireland
Niall Holohan Deputy Joint Secretary, North/South Ministerial Council
Dette Hughes Programme Manager, East Border Region Committee
Allison Irvine ICT Officer, Cooperation and Working Together
Fiona Johnston Assistant Statistician, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency NISRA
Steve MacFeely Director of Business Statistics, Central Statistics Office CSO
Kieran Mathers Tradelinks Programme Manager, Newry & Mourne Enterprise Agency
Stephen McGrath Senior Account Executive, Weber Shankwick
Gary McIntyre Advice & Information Worker, Borderwise
Lynda Monteith Corporate Director, Irish Central Border Area Network
Carolyne Murphy EU Programmes, Officer Co-operation Ireland
Paula O’Dwyer Executive, IBEC-CBI Joint Business Council
Annmarie O’Kane Information Officer, Centre for Cross Border Studies
Andy Pollak Director, Centre for Cross Border Studies
Zoe Robinson Media Manager, INC Marketing
Joe Shiels ICT Manager, Centre for Cross Border Studies