A CROSS-BORDER initiative to strengthen economic ties between Dublin and Belfast has the potential to create jobs and bring both sides “closer together”.
Tanaiste Leo Varadkar launched the scheme last week and said after 100 years apart it was time for both cities work together and be marketed as one.
Eight local authorities from both sides of the border have joined forces to set up the Dublin Belfast Economic Corridor in response to the issues facing the region.
A joint report from Dublin City University and Ulster University found it was an opportune time to create a North/South economic corrider.
It noted the necessity “given the challenges the region faces as it comes to terms with the impact of the UK’s exit from the European Union and the Covid-19 pandemic”.
Varadkar said the corridor was about bringing North and South closer together and enhancing co-operation between Dublin and Belfast, as well as the areas in between.
“For millennia now, the major economic centres on the island have been Dublin, since it was founded by the Vikings, and Belfast in the north east,” he said.
“There are two million people living along the corridor. It’s not just about Dublin, Belfast, it’s everything in between.
“To a certain extent, because of the events of 100 years ago, these two major urban centres, this major economic corridor, was split and turned their backs on each other in a way.
“I would like that to turn around.”
Stormont’s Finance Minister Conor Murphy said local authorities had been trying to improve the synergy between the two cities since partition and that the pooling of assets would be very beneficial.
The partnership includes councils in Armagh, Belfast, Dublin City, Dublin Fingal, Lisburn, Louth, Meath and Newry/Down.
According to the report’s findings opportunities exist to grow indigenous business and establish clusters of key sectors, using the Corridor as the driving force for economic development in the region and nationally.
Following the launch the next step is to establish a working governance structure made up of 24 councillors (three from each council).