Notes From The Next Door Neighbours

June 26, 2013

A Cross-Border Gun for Hire

So, after nearly 14 years, it is time to say farewell to the Centre for Cross Border Studies – although not to this blog, which is migrating to a new site (see below). We have done some good things in our small centre in Armagh during that time, and I must pay tribute to my […]

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May 29, 2013

My Top 14 cross-border co-operators in Ireland

Since this is my penultimate ‘Note’ before I stand down as director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies, I am going to use it to nominate my personal Top 14 cross-border co-operators, one for every year since the Centre was founded in 1999. There is no doubt that the pioneers of cross-border cooperation are […]

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May 1, 2013


In a small village in South Armagh something rather wonderful is beginning to take shape. After some difficult early years the Middletown Centre for Autism, a North/South body whose mission is to create a centre for excellence in Ireland for the education of children and young people with autism spectrum disorders, is beginning to take […]

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March 27, 2013


Sir George Quigley died on 3 March after a long and full life of service to Northern Ireland and Ireland. He was as near as a small place like Northern Ireland gets to a Renaissance man: head of four government departments; chairman of Ulster Bank and Bombardier; the tireless chair of numerous public bodies in […]

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February 27, 2013

Time to Reach Out a Southern Hand to Unionists

In a thought-provoking blog on the new 15 Years On site ( this month, former Community Relations Council director Duncan Morrow lists all the promised reforms in Northern Ireland since 1998 which have not been realised: a Single Equality Bill, a Shared Future, the Review of Public Administration, Dealing with the Past, educational reform, youth […]

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January 31, 2013

The Centre Roars Back with New Funding and a New Shared Blog

Nearly two years ago I wrote a ‘Note’ saying that the Centre for Cross Border Studies had 15-18 months funding left, we were starting to feel a little nervous, and were appealing to our readers and supporters for some good new ideas for cross-border cooperation in Ireland. In the event we generated most of those […]

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December 19, 2012

What will be the impact on the Irish border if the UK leaves the EU?

After last year’s hugely successful visit by Queen Elizabeth to the Republic and a joint communiqué of extraordinary warmth following last March’s summit between David Cameron and Enda Kenny, British-Irish relations were generally considered to have reached a closeness unprecedented in more than 90 years since Irish independence and partition. In July the Irish ambassador […]

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November 28, 2012

An Essential Cross-Border Information Service

For the second month running I am unashamedly going to blow the Centre for Cross Border Studies’ trumpet. Because the Centre does not only write about cross-border cooperation in Ireland; it not only researches such cross-border cooperation – it also does practical cooperation between the two parts of this island. Last month I wrote about […]

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October 31, 2012

An Incredible Achievement for Teacher Education

As a rule I try to avoid using this column as a way to blow the Centre for Cross Border Studies’ trumpet. But given the Irish and Northern Irish media’s almost total lack of interest in things cross-border, I sometimes can’t resist the temptation to tell a particular success story that the Centre is involved […]

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September 26, 2012

The Challenge of Turning Goodwill into Cooperation

Regular readers of this ‘note’ will know that I have certain obsessions which keep re-surfacing: the need to upgrade the Belfast-Dublin rail line; the exhortation to Northern Irish people to fully enjoy both their identities, Irish and British; the need for more people-to-people cooperation across the border; and the imperative for the public sectors in […]

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August 22, 2012

Does the South really want the North as part of Ireland?

It is difficult to overstate the lack of interest there is among people in the Republic these days in Northern Ireland, and in relations between North and South. As somebody who works in the North and lives in the South, my experience in recent years, as the economic and financial crisis has come to dominate […]

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July 17, 2012

A Cross-Border Geopark that leads the World

Fermanagh in the 1980s didn’t have much going for it. A remote place – in European, British and Irish terms – with a declining agricultural sector and a small inflow of tourists, largely for the boating on Lough Erne, and the seemingly endless misery of the Northern Irish conflict making both everyday life and economic […]

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