“Reassessing and Reconfiguring North-South and East-West relations in a changing landscape”
The Centre for Cross Border Studies. 21st Annual Conference was the first to be held in a virtual setting as the Centre adapted to the circumstances surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic. Held online on the 25th September, the conference “Reassessing and Reconfiguring North-South and East-West relations in a changing landscape” explored how we look at and reconfigure relations between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, between the island of Ireland and Great Britain, and between these islands and the wider world.
2020 CCBS Conference Opening Remarks & Keynote Julian Smith MP
The conference began with Dr Helen Johnston, Chair of the Centre for Cross Border Studies’ Board, welcoming the virtual audience of over 240 delegates and thanking the continued support of the Centre and its projects by the Department of Education and Skills and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’ Reconciliation Fund in the Republic of Ireland, and the Department of Communities in Northern Ireland.
In his opening remarks, Dr Anthony Soares, Director CCBS, acknowledge the unusual circumstances under which this year’s annual conference took place but stated that the work of the Centre, and that of cross-border cooperation, continued despite the Covid pandemic. Indeed, that with the pandemic and the end of the Brexit transition period in sight, cross-border cooperation, and the relationships it fosters, are now more important than ever.
The Centre was delighted to have former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Rt Hon Julian Smith CBE MP, as the first keynote of its 21st Annual Conference which was moderated by CCBS Research Associate Maureen O’Reilly. Julian Smith began his keynote by reflecting on his experiences in Northern Ireland particularly those in restoring power-sharing in Northern Ireland, achieved through the New Decade New Approach Deal. Julian explained that this deal had been reached by building relationships with parties and communities from all designations and backgrounds in Northern Ireland as well as those in the Republic of Ireland. On the future prospects of Northern Ireland, Julian felt that good relations between the UK and Ireland were essential as well as complete respect for all communities and backgrounds in Northern Ireland. He also stated that the stability of the Good Friday Agreement and trust and understanding would be vital in continuing the good work which had taken place. The keynote concluded with Maureen O’Reilly posing several of the audience’s questions to Julian.
2020 CCBS Conference Keynote & Morning Panel
Following the opening speaker of the conference, the Centre welcomed Adebayo Babajide, Head of Political Section, European Union Delegation to the United Kingdom. Adebayo focused on the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland including the challenges but also the positive opportunities and impacts of the Protocol.
Following his keynote, Adebayo joined our first panel discussion of the conference which was chaired by CCBS Research Associate Michael D’Arcy. The panel which focused on Governance, Divergence, Convergence: Implementing the Protocol and UK-Wide Frameworks and brought together a wide range of expertise on Northern Ireland, Business, Trade and Law. Professor Katy Hayward, Queen’s University Belfast, set the context for the panel’s discussion by explaining how we have arrived in the current situation with regards to the Ireland and Northern Ireland Protocol. Allie Renison, Institute of Directors, gave a Great Britain and Northern Ireland business perspective on the Protocol. David Henig, European Centre for International Political Economy, discussed the trade potentials for the UK as a whole and the particular issues for Northern Ireland. Professor Federico Fabbrini, Dublin City University, focused on the legal perspectives of the Ireland and Northern Ireland Protocol.
2020 CCBS Conference Journal Launch
After a break for lunch, the 2020 Journal of Cross Border Studies in Ireland was launched by CCBS Director Dr Anthony Soares. This year’s journal brought together contributions addressing four broad sets of issues of contemporary relevance to how we relate and cooperate across borders.
• The Implementation of Agreements
• Response to the Covid-19 pandemic
• Environment and Agriculture
• Scope for cooperation in the economic and skills landscape that lies before us
Anthony thanked all the contributors to this year’s Journal and our Journal Sponsors:
• Loughs Agency
• Ulster-Scots Agency
2020 CCBS Conference Keynote: Professor Deirdre Heenan
The afternoon session of the CCBS Annual Conference, generously sponsored by the Institute of Public Health, began with Professor Deirdre Heenan’s keynote speech. Professor Heenan, Ulster University, gave a presentation titled ‘Healthy Co-dependencies’ which focused on coordination across borders in response to Covid-19 and looked at these opportunities as we look to move beyond Brexit.
2020 CCBS Conference Afternoon Panel
The final panel of the chaired by Dr Teresa O’Doherty, CCBS, and focused on Healthy Co-Dependencies: Coordination across borders in response to Covid-19 and beyond Brexit. The panel which included Martin Unfried, ITEM, Maastricht University, Damien McCallion, Cooperation and Working Together, Joanne Morgan, Community Development and Health Network and Michael Tomlinson, Queen’s University, Belfast covered European, UK and local healthcare provisions and services across borders.
Front cover image:
Helen Sloan SMPSP, from Across and In-Between by Suzanne Lacy. Commissioned by 14-18 NoW and Belfast international arts Festival