Rural Restructuring Study and Working Papers

The major research report, Rural Restructuring: Local Sustainable Solutions to the Rural Challenge is now available, alongside the accompanying Working Paper SeriesThe report was launched by Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Michelle Gildernew MP MLA in association with Andy Pollak, Director, Centre for Cross Border Studies in June 2009. Undertaken by the International Centre for Local and Regional Development (ICLRD) with funding by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), the report centres on the experiences of three rural communities across the island:

  • Emyvale-Truagh-Aughnacloy (North Monaghan / South Tyrone border)
  • Draperstown (Magherafelt District)
  • Duhallow (Northwest Cork / East Kerry).

The report details the need for a focused approach to rural development that harnesses local assets and potentiality through joined up collaboration. It advocates for a ‘micro-region’ concept in rural development that moves from a strictly area-based approach within a single jurisdiction to an inter-locality model that (a) can operate across county or district administrative areas and the Border region and (b) recognises that micro-regions are part of, and contribute to, their wider region.

To receive a copy of this report, contact Eimear Donnelly, Events Coordinator at or by telephoning (028) 375 11550 (048 from Republic). Alternatively, the pdf of this document – together with the supporting background working papers – will be available for download at end July 2009.

Newry-Dundalk Twin City Region

Supporting the Implementation of Cross-Border Collaborative Frameworks

Main Report (.pdf)

Dundalk, Co. Louth
27 February 2009 


The Report was launched by Conor Murphy, MP MLA, Minister for Regional Development in Northern Ireland, and John Gormley, TD, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government of the Republic, at a special event at the Carrickdale Hotel, Ravensdale, Dundalk, Co Louth.

Published by the International Centre for Local and Regional Development, (ICLRD) the “Newry-Dundalk Twin City Region” Report brings together recent and current research on how to realise the benefits of cross-border collaboration in the Newry-Dundalk Sub Region through integrated planning and development strategies.

The Report, which was guided by a high level Steering Committee, chaired by InterTradeIreland with representatives from central and local government and business on both sides of the border, details how the Newry-Dundalk Twin City Region is well positioned to attract high quality jobs, improve the local environment, generate a wide range of public and commercial services, and promote a well managed environment for tourism and recreation.

The Steering Committee provided guidance to the study team which identified four key projects to be progressed within a wider sustainable development context. These include:

  1. A Newry-Dundalk Centre of Excellence to create a sustainable energy community linked to the work of Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) and EU Concerto;
  2. A proposed Newry-Dundalk Cross-Border International Services Zone linked to international financial and other services is proposed which will create additional skilled employment in the region;
  3. The promotion of geo-tourism and the management of a shared landscape and natural heritage to promote and safeguard the geological assets and natural resources of the Mournes, Cooley, Slieve Gullion and Carlingford Lough Region; and
  4. A further project to create and co-ordinate a regeneration strategy for both Newry and Dundalk thus promoting the distinctiveness of the two cities will also be developed.

The Report proposes that the two jurisdictions should continue their existing co-operation, particularly at central government level, by building on structures that have evolved during the study. A joint senior management group comprising the Local Authority County/ Manager and Chief Executive along with senior departmental heads has already been established to develop areas for co-operation in the future.

The Newry-Dundalk Twin City Concept first captured the imagination of politicians, academics, and senior officials in 2003 at an Ireland-Harvard Conference held in Newry City. The Newry-Dundalk Region has traditionally exhibited a long history of cross border co-operation between the local authorities of Newry and Mourne, Louth County and Dundalk Town Councils.

Councillor Colman Burns, Mayor of Newry and Mourne District Council, joined his colleagues from Louth County Council and Dundalk Town Council in welcoming the launch of the Newry-Dundalk Report.

“Newry and Mourne Council has been committed to cross-border co-operation for many years. We were co-founders, along with Louth County Council, in the establishment of the East Border Region in 1976. We also have a long established joint committee of elected members from Dundalk Town Council and Newry and Mourne District Council who meet on a regular basis to discuss issues of mutual concern and to promote greater co-operation between the communities on both sides of the border. Also at a local level through the Castleblayney-South Armagh Partnership we have supported a number of local tourism development projects. I very much welcome the Newry-Dundalk Twin City Report. This not only celebrates the co-operation already undertaken at the local level, but also sets out for us an agreed way forward that will help establish the Newry-Dundalk Twin City Region as a dynamo for growth and development on the island of Ireland”.

Newry and Mourne District Councils Chief Executive, Mr Thomas McCall, elaborated how the Newry-Dundalk Twin City Vision was first established at a local level and has been developed from the bottom up. Mr McCall said:

“The vision which was established by local politicians has taken hold in the minds of policy makers both in industry and in the public service. By stating our case for the future development of the Twin City Region, we have set out a series of key strategic projects, which are capable of delivery and which will help establish this region as an exemplar for cross-border development in the future”.

Aidan Gough, Director of Strategy at Intertrade Ireland who chaired the group said:

“In these troubled economic times, the Twin City Region Project sets out a route map to future prosperity based on cross-border co-operation, local leadership and central support. It is a prime example of actions locally to complete globally”.

The Report sets out the practical and mutual benefits of voluntary co-operation which will be reflected in pooling of expertise, sharing of good practice and efficiencies in enterprise development as well as the sustainable management of the region. The ICLRD research team undertook detailed research and conducted over 100 interviews with key public, business and civic leaders to identify key issues affecting the region.

A Twin City Region Advisory Group modelled on the Steering Committee and composed of representatives from the Newry and Mourne District, Louth County and Dundalk Town Councils along with representatives from the respective Chambers of Commerce and Central Government will be established, to oversee the implementation of the projects set out in the Report. The Advisory Group will also be supported by a number of joint technical teams under the stewardship of the Senior Management Group.

The initiative shown by the civic, public and business leadership in Newry and Dundalk to bring added benefits to each side of the border with a new regional perspective will provide a powerful example of how voluntary inter- jurisdictional co-operation can benefit other local governments across the island of Ireland.

The launch of the Newry-Dundalk Twin City Region Report also sets out a first in terms of sub-regional strategic planning on the Island of Ireland.

Small Connected Towns Study – Launch

Fostering Mutual Benefits in Cross-Border Areas: The Challenges and Opportunities in Connecting Irish Border Towns and Villages

Main Report (.pdf)
Executive Summary (.pdf)
Click here to see the launch presentations 

Blacklion, Co. Cavan
21 November 2008

The 18-month research programme focusing on the inter-relationships between cross-border towns and villages in the Irish Border region culminated with the launch of the book, Fostering Mutual Benefits in Cross-Border Areas: The Challenges and Opportunities in Connecting Irish Border Towns and Villages, in Blacklion Golf Club, County Cavan on the 21 November 2008.  The research considers the relationship and connectivity that exist between five cross-border settlement groupings and identifies and examines the challenges facing, and opportunities within, these ‘micro-regions’.  The Border towns and villages included in the study were:

  • Lifford-Strabane
  • Kiltyclogher-Cashel/Scribbagh-Garrison-Rossinver
  • Blacklion-Belcoo-Glenfarne
  • Clones-Rosslea-Newtownbutler-Lisnaskea
  • Castleblayney-Crossmaglen.

The well-attended launch of the resulting book in November 2008 received very positive feedback and local press coverage. About 60 people from the cross-border region attended the launch, including the ICLRD research team and representatives from ICLRD partners; namely Rob Kitchin of NIRSA/NUIM, John Cusack of AIT and Greg Lloyd of the School of Built Environment at UU. The morning combined a briefing by the research team on the study’s findings and on future opportunities for cross-border cooperation. This was followed by commentary from a panel that represented the viewpoints of the community, public and private sectors.  Representing the lead funding agency behind this research programme, the International Fund for Ireland (IFI), board member Ms. Deidre Ryan discussed the timeliness of the study as well as the continued role for IFI in cross-border planning. From a political perspective, Jim Wells MLA, South Down and Eamon Scanlon T.D., Sligo-North Leitrim both noted that while cross-border cooperation can be difficult and can ‘take us out of our comfort zones’, the mutual benefits to be gained outweigh these fears. Niall Holohan of the North South Ministerial Council – and representing the Steering Committee established to oversee this research programme – offered an all-island perspective on the role and importance of collaboration. The event then concluded with the launch of the book by renowned journalist and author, Colm Toibin.

A core message emerging from all speakers at the launch was the need for greater investment in communicating the success stories which, in turn, demonstrate the mutual benefits to be gained through cross-border cooperation.


Map of Study Area

Check out our press coverage!
Articles in the Fermanagh Herald (1) and (2)
Article in the Cavan Echo
Article in the Donegal News
Article in the Northern Standard
Article in the Sligo Post
Article in the Sligo Weekender

Establishing the Connection: Spatial Strategy and Cross-Border Collaboration

Seminar paper presented to a Mapping Frontiers workshop held in Derry in October 2005 of the thinking behind a collaborative approach to spatial planning and the work to date in this area undertaken by ICLRD.

By Neale Blair, Brendan Bartley, John Driscoll

ICBAN: Cross-border Transportation Planning

The purpose of the study was to assist the Irish Central Border Area Network (ICBAN) to examine border regional transport infrastructure in the context of strategic spatial planning.