Former IDA boss calls for cross border development zone

A former head of IDA Ireland has called for a special cross-border development zone to be set up to give a boost to the economic development of the border regions of Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland.

At a recent conference, Padraic White emphasised that “the immediately adjoining border areas have common economic threats but also a strong interest in maximising joint strengths.

Mr White believes district councils and counties along a ‘Border Development Zone’ could drive economic development by cooperation and sharing successful ideas.

The former managing director of the agency responsible for attracting Foreign Direct Investment to the Republic of Ireland identified a number of bilateral initiatives that could form the initial basis of a strategic Cross-Border Development Plan for the whole border region.

These would build on four key sources of indigenous enterprise and growth: SME enterprise with an export potential; tourism and recreation; agriculture and food processing and low carbon initiatives, energy saving and renewable energy.

The proposal is contained in the Centre for Cross Border Studies’ report Cross-Border Economic Renewal: Rethinking Regional Policy in Ireland.

The authors of this report, economists Dr John Bradley  and Professor Michael Best have backed Mr White in his calls for a cross-border development zone stating it would make maximum use of current ‘national’ resources and stimulating the evolution of local resources and expertise.