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19 Sep 2024


Celebrating a shared journey and the path ahead

Our 25th Annual Conference will take place on Thursday 19 September 2024 in Ballymascanlon Hotel and Golf Resort, Dundalk.

It is the highlight of our events calendar and there will be noteworthy keynote addresses, panel discussions, and informal networking. The conference will bring together a range of decision and policy-makers, leading academics, civil society representatives and commentators. The work of the Centre for Cross Border Studies has been significant in supporting cooperation and relations within and across these islands. We will be celebrating key achievements, partnerships, events and staff over the past 25 years.

Volume 19 of the Journal of Cross Border Studies in Ireland will also be presented at the conference. Comprising a range of articles by well-known contributors from the academic and policy world, it is a great read.

We’ll be adding details of the conference programme, confirmed sponsors, and sponsorship opportunities to this page.



The conference starts with a networking breakfast from 8-9.30am.

Welcome – Peter Osborne (Chair of the Centre for Cross Border Studies)

Panel 1: The Directors’ Panel

  • Andy Pollak (founding Director of CCBS)
  • Ruth Taillon (former Director of CCBS), and
  • Dr Anthony Soares (current Director of CCBS)

This panel will be chaired by Caitriona Mullan (Senior Research Associate at the CCBS)

Keynote Speaker: Patrick O’Donovan TD (Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science)


Panel 2 (supported by the Institute of Public Health): Starting the adventure

  • Martin Fraser (Irish Ambassador to the UK)
  • Tom Hanney (former Joint Secretary [South] of the North South Ministerial Council)
  • Mary Bunting (former Joint Secretary [North] of the North South Ministerial Council), and
  • Michael D’Arcy (CCBS Senior Research Associate and Advisor to the IBEC-CBI NI Joint Business Council)

This panel has been kindly supported by the Institute of Public Health


Panel 3: Choosing the right path

  • Dr Helen Johnston (Senior Policy Analyst at the National Economic and Social Council and former Chair of CCBS)
  • Anne Thevenet (Assistant Director of Euro-Institut)
  • Pamela Arthurs (Chief Executive of East Border Region Ltd), and
  • Prof Duncan Morrow (Professor in Politics and Director of Community Engagement at Ulster University)

Keynote Speaker: To be announced


Panel 4 (supported by Ibec): Where to next?

  • Gina McIntyre (Chief Executive of the Special EU Programmes Body)
  • Martín Guillermo-Ramírez (Secretary General of the Association of European Border Regions)
  • Paul Johnston (British Ambassador to Ireland), and
  • Danny McCoy (Chief Executive Officer of IBEC)

This panel will be chaired by Tara Farrell (Chief Executive Officer of Longford Women’s Link) and has been kindly supported by the Irish Business and Employers’ Confederation (Ibec)

Closing Remarks – Dr Anthony Soares

Reception & Dinner – The Conference Dinner has been kindly sponsored by Dublin City University and Queen’s University Belfast.


‘Early bird’ Delegate rates

Conference Rate – £45 (until 31 July 2024), £65 (from 1 August 2024)

Conference Rate, Reception & Dinner – £85 (until 31 July 2024), £110 (from 1 August 2024)

Accommodation rate (delegates should arrange their own accommodation booking with the hotel, using code ‘CCBS September 19th’  – single €130, double €145)



We have developed conference sponsorship packages. If your organisation is interested in sponsoring part of the conference, please email

Conference speakers

Peter Osborne

Peter Osborne

Chair of the Centre for Cross Border Studies

Peter is Chair of the Centre for Cross Border Studies, Chair of the Integrated Education Fund, and Chair of Remembering Srebrenica. He is a board member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, the International Fund for Ireland and National Museums Northern Ireland.

He has been involved in good relations and reconciliation most of his life working in the private sector and with public agencies and Councils in Ireland, North and South. 

A former Chair of the Community Relations Council, Peter was a Commissioner and Chair of the Parades Commission for 10 years. He founded and chaired Landmark East (now Eastside Property), a property-based social enterprise. 

Andy Pollak

Andy Pollak

Founding Director of the CCBS

Andy was founding director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh (1999-2013). He was also secretary of Universities Ireland and the Standing Conference on Teacher Education North and South (SCoTENS).

Andy is a former religious affairs correspondent, education correspondent, assistant news editor and Belfast reporter with the Irish Times. In the early 1990s he was coordinator of the Opsahl Commission’s ‘citizens inquiry’ into ways forward for Northern Ireland. Andy is co-author of biographies of Ian Paisley (1986) and Seamus Mallon (2019). He blogs at 

Ruth Taillon

Ruth Taillon

Former Director of the CCBS

Ruth retired as Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in March 2019 (she was Deputy Director 2009-2013). From 2002 to 2008, she was responsible for coordinating research and evaluation of cross-border projects with Border Action/Pobal, the agency tasked with administration of the EU Peace II Programme on behalf of the Irish Government.

Prior to this, Ruth worked in both paid and voluntary capacities for many years with community development projects, trade unions and women’s organisations throughout the island of Ireland. 

She is now a committee member of the UN Association-Northern Ireland, a voluntary group that promotes awareness of and support for the objectives of the United Nations. She is also a Council member of the Irish Association for cultural, economic and social relations which promotes communication, understanding and co-operation between all the people of Ireland, both north and south. 

Ruth also occasionally writes and lectures on Irish women’s history and is currently working on a biography of Mary McNeill, the founding Secretary of the Irish Association. 

Dr Anthony Soares

Dr Anthony Soares

Current Director of the CCBS

Anthony  is Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies. His role includes leading in the development and advocacy of policies at regional, national and European levels that support sustainable cross-border and transnational cooperation. This has increasingly meant coordinating CCBS’s responses to the UK’s referendum on EU membership and its aftermath, publishing briefing papers and reports, submitting evidence to parliamentary committees in both Westminster and Dublin, and consulting with a range of political representatives and organisations on the island of Ireland, Great Britain and in Europe. 

Caitriona Mullan

Caitriona Mullan

Senior Research Associate at the CCBS

Caitriona is a cross-border cooperation and governance specialist working across the EU. She is a senior Expert with European Commission DG REGIO (structural funds) where she is currently advising on the design and resilience of cross-border health systems in Central and Eastern European countries.

Caitriona also works with the Council of Europe’s Centre of Expertise in Multilevel Governance, with recent missions supporting the Government of Armenia in building local government capacity for intermunicipal and cross-border co-operation, and supporting the Finnish government in relation to local government systems development.

In addition, she advises on the EU b-Solutions initiative delivered for the European Commission by the Association of European Border Regions, which addresses and solves cross border obstacles to mobility, integration and EU citizens’ rights across the EU and on EPA borders. Her work includes supporting AEBR on cross-border co-operation and Ukraine. Caitriona’s policy, research and advisory work is informed by three decades’ hands-on public sector and cross-border experience in Ireland and Northern Ireland, gained in executive and non-executive roles in the central government, regional development and local government, health and social care, and higher education sectors.

She has authored a range of publications and articles on a range of territorial co-operation themes with NESC, CCBS, ICLRD, the European Commission and AEBR. Caitriona holds senior research associate roles with the Centre of Cross Border Studies and the International Centre for Local and Regional Development; and she provides strategic advisory support to a number of North South co-operation initiatives including the Astronomical Observatories of Ireland. 

Patrick O'Donovan

Patrick O'Donovan

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science

Patrick was appointed as Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science on the nomination of the Taoiseach Simon Harris in April 2024. He is the Fine Gael TD for Limerick County having been first elected to the Dáil in 2011 and re-elected in 2016 and 2020. He served as Minister for the Office of Public Works and also Aire Stáit na Gaeltachta up until Simon Harris’ election as Taoiseach. He had served as Minister for the OPW since 2020, and in December 2022 was also appointed to the position of Minister of State for the Gaeltacht.

He previously served as Minister of State in the Departments of Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform with responsibility for eGov and Public Procurement, and he also served as Minister of State for Tourism and Sport.

During the 31st Dáil he served as a member of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee, the Oireachtas Committees on Transport, Communications and Natural Resources and Public Services Oversight and Petitions. He was also a member of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly.

Prior to his election to Dáil Éireann, Patrick was a member of Limerick County Council from 2003 to 2011 representing the Newcastle West Electoral Area during which he served as Leader of the Fine Gael group on the Council. He is a former National President of Young Fine Gael.

Patrick worked as an Analytical Chemist, Health, Safety and Environment manager, industry consultant and primary teacher prior to his election to the Dáil.

Martin Fraser

Martin Fraser

Ireland's Ambassador to the UK

From Dublin, the Ambassador joined the Civil Service aged 16 and worked in the Department of Social
Welfare for 10 years. He later worked in the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Agriculture, before joining the Department of the Taoiseach in 1999.

Ambassador Fraser served as Secretary General to the Government and Secretary General of the
Department of the Taoiseach for over 10 years. In that role, he was closely involved in the response to the global economic crisis, Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as social reforms such as the referendums on marriage equality and the repeal of the 8th amendment.

He has been involved in developing British-Irish relations for nearly 20 years, working on the Northern
Ireland Peace Process since 2004, as well as the State Visits of the Queen to Ireland and of the President to Britain, and the Decade of Centenaries.

The Ambassador is an avid follower of sport, including football, GAA, rugby, golf and cricket. He follows Liverpool, the Republic of Ireland and the Dubs, and is a regular attender at games. He is also interested in arts, culture and reading, especially history.

Tom Hanney

Tom Hanney

Former Joint Secretary of the North South Ministerial Council

April 2020-August 2023 

Permanent Representative of Ireland to the European Union 

January 2017-March 2020 

Ambassador of Ireland to the Republic of Austria and Permanent Representative to the International Organisations in Vienna 

September 2011-December 2016 

Deputy Permanent Representative of Ireland, Brussels 

Chairman of Coreper I, January-June 2013 

September 2010-September 2011 

Ambassador of Ireland to the Kingdom of Belgium and Head of the Liaison Office to the Partnership for Peace at NATO  

September 2006-September 2010 

Joint Secretary, North South Ministerial Council, Armagh

September 2004-September 2006

Counsellor, EU and International Affairs Division, Department of the Taoiseach (Prime Minister’s Office, Dublin). Responsible for European Council coordination. Deputy Sherpa 

September 1999-September 2004 

Counsellor, Irish Aid, Department of Foreign Affairs Dublin, responsible for managing Ireland’s participation in global UN development conferences and for Ireland’s financial contributions to a wide range of UN and other multilateral development organisations 

September 1995-September 1999 

First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Ireland to the UN at Geneva, responsible for disarmament matters   

September 1978-September 1995 

Third Secretary, First Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs, Dublin 

Mary Bunting

Mary Bunting

Former Joint Secretary of the North South Ministerial Council

Mary was born and educated in Derry. She graduated with a degree in mathematics from Queen’s University Belfast in 1974 and worked in education until 1988. Mary held various roles in the Fair Employment Agency/Commission and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland until 2001.  

She was appointed Director of Equality in the Office of the First Minster and deputy First Minister in 2001. Mary took up the post of Joint Secretary (North) of the North South Ministerial Council in January 2006 which she held for almost seven years until retirement in October 2012. 

Michael D'Arcy

Michael D'Arcy

CCBS Senior Research Associate and Advisor to the IBEC-CBI NI Joint Business Council

Michael is a business consultant and advisor who is also a interlocuter, speaker and writer playing a central role in researching how prosperity underpins peace and stability. His extensive all-island strategic insights are informed by being an pioneer of North-South economic and business interaction before the 1998 Belfast / Good Friday Agreement and throughout its operation since, now impacted by Brexit and the Windsor Agreement. 

Michael is a Senior Research Associate at the Centre for Cross Border Studies. His contributions include: Delivering a Prosperity Process: Opportunities in North/South Public Service Provision Report (2012); presenting the 5th Annual Sir George Quigley Memorial Lecture, ‘Reimagining the island economy in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis and the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol’ (2020); various articles in its Annual Journal; and a scoping paper on What the Windsor Framework/Protocol will mean in practice for the institutions of government in Northern Ireland?’ presented to a CCBS Seminar in Northern Ireland Executive Office in Brussels (2023). Along with Professor Frances Ruane he jointly authored ‘The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, the island of Ireland Economy and Brexit’ (2018) for the British Academy and the Royal Irish Academy.   

He is currently also the independent Programme Lead for the Ibec/CBI Joint Business Council (JBC), supported Ibec’s ‘for Peace + Prosperity’ campaign to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, is on a Steering Group overseeing a ground-breaking macro-economic Research Programme for Northern Ireland and the all-island economy led by the ESRI and the UK’s National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), and is Ibec’s representative on the Programme Monitoring Committee for the PEACEPLUS Programme.  

Dr Helen Johnston

Dr Helen Johnston

Senior Policy Analyst (National Economic and Social Council) and former Chair of the CCBS Board

Helen is a Senior Social Policy Analyst at the Irish National Economic and Social Council, where she has worked on the Irish Government’s Shared Island initiative. She was previously Director of the Irish Combat Poverty Agency.

A native of Northern Ireland, Helen has previous experience working in the Northern Ireland Civil Service. She was chair of the Centre for Cross Border Studies from 2011 to 2021Helen has qualifications in Environmental Science and Town and Country Planning, a Masters in Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Governance. 

Anne Thevenet

Anne Thevenet

Assistant Director of the Euro-Institut and Coordinator of the Transfrontier Euro-Institut Network

Anne has been working at the Euro-Institut (, Institute for training and counselling on cross-border issues located in Kehl (Germany), since 2005. She holds a diploma in political sciences, and Masters in European studies and in management. 

As Deputy Director, Anne is in charge of human resources, contacts with funders and the development of new projects and strategies. Her fields of expertise are the coaching of stakeholders and cross-border groups/ teams, the design and delivery of training courses (thematic issues particularly social affairs/ intercultural project management/ cross-border cooperation) as well as the design and moderation of workshops, conferences and citizens engagement events. Moreover, she worked on several projects and studies, which aimed at combining practical and scientific approaches on cross-border issues. 

Since 2010, Anne has coordinated the Transfrontier Euro-Institut Network TEIN (, a network of excellence in cross-border training, research and support services throughout Europe gathering now 18 partners (training organisations, universities and research centres) as well as 2 associated members from 12 border regions in Europe. TEIN’s objective is to build capacities in cross-border contexts to strengthen European integration. 

Since 2018, she’s member of the Franco-German Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence lead by the University of Strasbourg. 

Pamela Arthurs

Pamela Arthurs

Chief Executive of the East Border Region

Pamela is Chief Executive of East Border Region (EBR). Established in 1976 EBR is one of the longest-established local authority-led cross-border groups in Europe. Encompassing six local authorities along the east coast of Ireland a key objective is to promote cross-border economic development which benefits the people of the region. EBR has played a central role in the administration of EU funding on the island of Ireland for almost 30 years administering over €150m to successfully delivered projects. EBR is currently working on several large strategic projects incorporating multiple project partners for submission to the PEACEPLUS Programme. 

As Chief Executive, Pamela is responsible for cross-border policy, strategy, administrative and financial matters. She is also an Executive Member of the Association of European Border Regions.

Prof Duncan Morrow

Prof Duncan Morrow

Professor in Politics and Director of Community Engagement, Ulster University

Duncan is Professor in Politics and Director of Community Engagement at Ulster University.

He has been actively involved in issues of peace, conflict and reconciliation which have taken him into academic writing, research projects, policy forums, parading and policing issues, face to face community work, youth work, mediation, organisational change and politics. He was Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council for 10 years, spent 20 years as a Sentence Review Commissioner, and Chaired committees for the Scottish Government on Sectarianism and Hate Crime.

Duncan is on the Boards of the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education, Corrymeela Community, North Belfast Business Centre and Include Youth. He has been around long enough now to have become a a grandfather. 

Gina McIntyre

Gina McIntyre

Chief Executive of the Special EU Programmes Body

Gina is the Chief Executive of the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), a cross-border body established under the Good Friday Agreement and working to the Government of Ireland and the Northern Ireland Assembly.

She is currently responsible for the European Union PEACE IV and INTERREG VA funding programmes, totalling in excess of €0.5 billion, and a new PEACEPLUS Programme with a value of €1.144 billion. The PEACE Programme represents a unique investment by the European Union in support of the peace process, and both Programmes support the development of a more sustainable and prosperous cross-border region, across Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland and Western Scotland (INTERREG only). The PEACEPLUS Programme incorporates objectives and activities from both previous progammes and has a focus on sustaining peace and prosperity in the region, building on the past 25 years of work.  

Having spent most of her career involved with EU support programmes, Gina has gained extensive knowledge of the complex cross-border development needs of the region and the appropriate European funding instruments available to meet them. 

Gina is a qualified chartered accountant who trained and qualified with Coopers & Lybrand. Before joining the SEUPB as the Director of Corporate Services in 2003, she gained extensive practical knowledge of managing the distribution of cross-border PEACE funding during her work for Co-operation Ireland. 

She is a regular speaker at major conferences and exhibitions across Europe on the management of EU Programmes in a post conflict society. 

Martín Guillermo-Ramírez

Martín Guillermo-Ramírez

Secretary General of the Association of European Border Regions

Martín holds a Master’s Degree in Humanitarian Medicine and is an expert with more than three decades of experience in international cooperation and relations. He worked in youth organisations (1989-1995) and then in the Regional Government of Extremadura (Spain) in the scopes of cooperation for development, international relations, and health and welfare policies (1995-2006).

Since 2006 is the Secretary General of the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR/ARFE/AGEG), one of the oldest associations of regions in Europe (founded in 1971). AEBR represents the interests of European border and cross-border regions towards EU institutions, national authorities, and other bodies. It promotes capacity building, strategic development and public policies to overcome cross-border obstacles, and also fosters the relationship with cross-border processes in other continents to exchange experience and best practices.

Paul Johnston

Paul Johnston

British Ambassador to Ireland

September 2020 – appointed as British Ambassador to Ireland 

2017 – 2020 Brussels, UK Ambassador to the EU for Political and Security Affairs, UK Permanent Representation to the EU 

2015 – 2017 Brussels, Deputy Permanent Representative, UK Permanent Representation to NATO 

2011 – 2015 Stockholm, Her Majesty’s Ambassador 

2008 – 2010 FCO, Director, International Security 

2005 – 2008 New York, Political Counsellor, UK Mission to the United Nations 

2002 – 2004 FCO, Head, Security Policy Department 

1999 – 2002 FCO, Various roles including Head of Kosovo Policy Team; Head of European Defence Section; and Deputy Head of Department for EU External Policy 

1995 – 1999 Paris, Private Secretary to Her Majesty’s Ambassador and subsequently Second Secretary covering, inter alia, the former Soviet Union and former Yugoslavia 

1993 – 1995 FCO, Desk Officer for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Eastern Adriatic Department 

1990 – 1993 Ministry of Defence, roles including on International Procurement Policy, Resources and Programmes (Navy) and as Private Secretary to the 2nd Permanent Under Secretary 

Danny McCoy

Danny McCoy

CEO of Ibec

Danny has been Chief Executive Officer of Ibec since 2009. Ibec is Ireland’s largest business representative organisation and the country’s largest lobbying group. It has 285 staff in nine locations and has 39 sectoral brands with substantial presence within the European Union through Ibec’s Brussels office. Danny is a member of the Irish Tripartite Labour Employer Economic Forum (LEEF). 

He is a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, a Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy, Honorary Fellow of the Irish Academy of Engineers, Adjunct Professor Trinity College Dublin Business School and Vice President of the Statistical & Social Inquiry Society of Ireland and Independent Non Executive Director of Iput Real Estate.  

Danny has held lecturing posts at University College London, University of Oxford, Trinity College Dublin and Dublin City University. He has been senior economist at the Central Bank of Ireland and the Economic & Social Research Institute as well as being a consultant to the European Commission and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. 

Tara Farrell

Tara Farrell

CEO of Longford Women's Link

Tara Farrell is the Chief Executive Officer of Longford Women’s Link (LWL). Founded in 1995, Longford Women’s Link (LWL) is a dynamic social enterprise delivering a range of services and supports to over 1,000 women and children annually. A native of Roscommon, Tara has over 20 years’ experience in the Community, Voluntary and Education sectors. Tara is the Chairperson of Irish Rural Link and former Chairperson of AONTAS, the National Adult Learning Organisation. She is a member of the Steering Group of The New Common Charter and part of the Ad-Hoc Group for North-South East-West Co-operation. Tara also lectures in Human Rights and Equality at ATU, Sligo. She holds an LLM in International Human Rights Law and has also lectured in Political Science in the University of Limerick and Management Development at Dublin City University. She is currently enrolled on the University of Galway MBA Programme. 

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