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Re-imagining the island economy in the aftermath of the Covid 19 crisis and the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol’

The 5th Annual Sir George Quigley Memorial Lecture was held on the 4th June and, in light of the current pandemic, was the first of the series to be delivered online. This year’s lecture was given by Michael D’Arcy and focused on the contemporary and relevant topic of ‘Re-imagining the island economy in the aftermath of the Covid 19 crisis and the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol’.

Dr Anthony Soares, Director Centre for Cross Border Studies, opened the event by emphasising that Sir George Quigley’s vision of strong economic and business cooperation between the two parts of the island of Ireland is one which resonates with the core values of the Centre. Anthony then introduced Michael D’Arcy and announced that Michael has agreed to become a Senior Research Associate at the Centre.  Michael was an early pioneer of Sir George Quigley’s proposal for an island economy and he began his lecture by acknowledging how many of Sir George’s concepts are still of importance today and vital as we look to the future with the impact of COVID-19 and Brexit.

In the first section of his lecture, Michael discussed the Convergence which has taken place on the island of Ireland, highlighting the role in which the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement along with joint membership of the European Union has played in delivering an island economy, in supporting peace and in encouraging cross border business. He went on to state that this progress is now threatened by the UK leaving the EU and the wide ranging effects of Brexit as well as COVID-19. Michael focused on this Divergence in the second part of his lecture, examining how the future of the EU & UK relationships, the flux in the UK’s internal Unions and the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol will have a bearing on the future of the island and which are having an impact on all island businesses. However Michael stated that while there are challenges ahead, there are also Opportunities. This was the focus on the final part of the lecture with the COVID-19 recovery process providing an opportunity to use, create and build upon already existing cross border institutions and structures, to define the island economy and to further embed the peace that has been achieved. Michael concluded the lecture by stating that Reimaging the island economy needs your help and that all island thinking can be a catalyst in driving innovation in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

In the Question and Answers section following the lecture Michael answered questions on how to engage the peace generations, where are the threats for the return of political violence and what are the mutually beneficial all island innovations yet to be achieved as well as discussing the benefits of an all island economy to Unionists. All of these questions and the lecture are available below.


The recording and presentation from the event are available below.


Michael D’Arcy Presentation




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