Research papers sought for the second edition of Borderlands: The Journal of Spatial Planning in Ireland

The International Centre for Local and Regional Development (ICLRD) will publish the second edition of Borderlands: The Journal of Spatial Planning in Ireland in January 2012.  The Centre is currently seeking high quality research papers on issues of spatial planning and regional development to include in this forthcoming issue of the Journal.  The subject matter of articles can cover a number of areas, including: spatial planning policy and practice, the economy, balanced regional development, cross-border collaborative initiatives, planning for energy and the green economy, shared services, housing, the environment, etc., governance (reform) and evidence-informed planning.

Those interested in submitting a paper should forward a 300-word abstract to John Driscoll, Director at by close of business on Thursday, 30th June 2011.   If approved, the deadline for submission of final papers is Friday, 30th September 2011. The Centre will pay £400 / €450 for an article of 4,000-5,000 words.

While articles can relate to the island of Ireland or overseas, all must have a spatial planning focus.

Borderlands: The Journal of Spatial Planning in Ireland


The International Centre for Local and Regional Development (ICLRD) is delighted to announce the publication of the inaugural issue of Borderlands: The Journal of Spatial Planning in Ireland. This informative annual journal includes timely articles on cross-border and inter-jurisdictional cooperation on the island of Ireland – and beyond.

With a particular focus on the challenging issues facing local and regional development, the articles on spatial planning practice and policy, balanced regional development, governance reform, community development and cross-border cooperation, and evidence-informed planning will appeal to planning practitioners, policy-makers, community interest groups, and academics.  Contributors to this issue included Dr. Tim O’Connor on the genesis of the ICLRD; Prof. Greg Lloyd on the role of spatial planning in supporting the ‘common good’; Charlotte Khan and Holly St. Clair on the Boston experience of evidence-based planning and policy – not only at national government level but also within and across communities; and Prof. Peter Roberts on the evolution of sustainable communities theory and its application to the six case studies presented in the ICLRD Project, “Living Together”.

The journal, made possible by funding received from INTERREG IVA administered by the Special EU Programmes Body, was jointly launched by Ms. Anne Barrington, Joint Southern Secretary and Ms. Mary Bunting, Joint Northern Secretary of the North South Ministerial Framework on 2o January 2011 as part of the ICLRD’s Sixth Annual Conference.

Copies of the journal are available by contacting Eimear Donnelly, Project Administrator at (028) 3751 1550 or on

ICLRD Briefing Papers

The International Centre for Local and Regional Development (ICLRD) is publishing a series of short timely articles that explore how various forms of planning, enacted at different spatial scales, can contribute to better collaboration on the pressing issues facing both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

By considering both jurisdictions on the island and the potential synergies and efficiencies that can be realised through cooperation, we aim to provide a more rounded view than considering each jurisdiction in isolation.  We believe that good planning, following international best practice, can be a major part in the crafting of practical solutions to inter-jurisdictional and cross-border cooperation.

These short papers will consider the key topics, challenges and opportunities for cooperation under discussion in Belfast and Dublin (and elsewhere) and explore the critical relationships between planning and the wider economy, the environment, energy, services, housing and infrastructure.

Reflections on the Boom: A Time for Reform — No.9 August 2011

The paper by Dr. Patricia O’Hara, Chairperson of the National Statistics Board and Adjunct Professor at the National Institute for Regional Spatial Analysis (NIRSA), NUI Maynooth, takes a social and cultural perspective on the impact of the recession in both jurisdictions.  It addresses the need to make sense of the past so as to discern the bedrock for reform and to use the opportunity to tackle new and long-standing challenges.

Innovation: The Challenge of Building an Adaptive and Innovative Society — No.8 May 2011

The paper by Dr. James Cunningham, Director of the Centre for Innovation and Structural Change (CISC) and senior lecturer in Strategic Management at the J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics at NUI Galway, presents the challenges and opportunities for fostering innovation in Ireland. Dr. Cunningham argues for an open and collaborative environment where many sectors and all levels can develop new ideas with individual, economic, social and public good outcomes.

Doing More with Less: A Business Perspective — No.7 January 2011

The paper by Feargal McCormack, FPM Chartered Accountants and founding Chairman of ICLRD, on Doing More with Less: A Business Perspective offers insights on how businesses needing to adapt to economic challenges can approach change as an opportunity for growth. The paper encourages networking and collaborating to strengthen relationships internally and with clients in order to establish businesses’ competitive advantage and increase efficiency. The recommendations apply not only to corporations working at the border, but also to cross-border bodies and nonprofits involved in community development.

Recovery Scenarios for the Two Irish Economies — No.6 July 2010

The paper by Prof. John FitzGerald, The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) considers the problems facing both economies on the island of Ireland, and how these same problems need to be addressed in terms of where future employment opportunities are located – and the nature of this. It further argues that all aspects of policy should focus on the unemployed if we are to rapidly reverse the growth in numbers in consistent poverty.

Evidence-Informed Spatial Planning: A Boston Metro Perspective – No. 5 May 2010

The paper by Holly St Clair, Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), Boston on Evidence-Informed Spatial Planning: A Boston Metro Perspective highlights a number of the different collaborative initiatives in which MAPC has been engaged in the Boston Metro area. The paper also discusses the role of evidence-based planning on responding to an identified need, and the increasing requirement for organisations to be flexible and adaptive to changing local and regional circumstances.

ESPON and the EU Research Agenda – No. 4 February 2010

The paper by Cliff Hague and Brendan Bartley on ESPON – A New Practical European Research Agenda for Territorial and Development reviews the new ESPON programme, covering the period 2007-2013, in terms of its contribution to the emerging territorial cohesion agenda of the European Union.  The paper also provides a synopsis of the evolution of EU policy from spatial planning in the late 1990s to the current emphasis on territorial development and cohesion.

The Conditions Necessary for Gateway Development & the Role of Smaller Gateways in Economic Development – No. 3 January 2010

The paper by Jim Walsh and Cormac Walsh on The Conditions Necessary for Gateway Development & the Role of Smaller Gateways in Economic Development reviews the conditions necessary for Gateway development and explores the role of the smaller Gateways in economic development. While this paper focuses on the National Spatial Strategy in the Republic of Ireland, the key factors contributing to regional competitiveness in smaller regional centres in Northern Ireland are similar.

Linking Spatial Planning with Public Investment: Perspectives from the Island of Ireland – No 2 December 2009

The paper by David Counsell and Greg Lloyd on Linking Spatial Planning with Public Investment: Perspectives from the Island of Ireland explores the relationships between spatial planning and public investment on the island of Ireland, comparing the different approaches in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, identifying key challenges for the two governments and drawing lessons for the future.

Good Planning Key to Future Success No 1 – November 2009

The paper by Rob Kitchin and Alastair Adair on Good Planning Key to Future Success argues that the opportunity for a long term, sustainable recovery is greatly increased through strategically aware and robust planning systems. This means, on the one hand reform of the planning systems and on the other the implementation of the NSS and RDS and investment in sectoral and spatial planning initiatives.

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

Small Connected Towns Study

The 18-month research programme on cross-border town inter-relationships has culminated in the release of the report Fostering Mutual Benefits in Cross-Border Areas: The Challenges and Opportunities in Connecting Irish Border Towns and Villages. The 21 November 2008 launch of the study was well-attended and well-recieved, and helped to demonstrate the benefits to be gained by cross-border cooperation.

Small Connected Towns Study Launch

The Border region is characterised by many problems: its peripherality, a lack of joined up action and spatial planning, an infrastructure deficit, the decline of traditional economic activities such as farming, woodworks and textiles, high unemployment and low educational attainment. In economic terms, towns have been cut off from their natural trading and retailing hinterlands. The region is also characterised by sectarian tensions remaining from the Troubles.

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

The key objectives of this study are to:

  • Identify best practice in joined-up planning and regeneration for inter-connected cross-border areas with a particular emphasis on collaborative efforts that have supported local economic development, social cohesion and mutual benefits.
  • Identify factors associated with successful collaboration through review of projects with a history of successful interaction and outcomes including institutional frameworks for collaboration.
  • Develop strategies for inter-connected cross-border towns to make more effective use of funding to support future growth and development; and
  • Determine how these towns can promote joined-up spatial planning to effectively link to the designated local, regional and national policy using funding from sources for cross-border infrastructure and planning.

This action-oriented research programme focuses on five cross-border areas covering towns and villages of varying sizes with different functional roles in the settlement hierarchy

Third Annual Conference Report Now Available

The report on the Third Annual ICLRD Conference, Fostering Co-operation for Local and Regional Development through Cross Border Spatial Planning, is now avaliable

On January 17, 2008 in Armagh, the ICLRD together with InterTradeIreland hosted a conference on Fostering Co-operation for Local and Regional Development through Cross Border Spatial Planning. The conference was opened jointly by Batt O’Keeffe TD, Minister for Housing, Urban Renewal and Developing Areas, and Conor Murphy MP MLA, Minister for Regional Development.  The ICLRD is continuing to support the development of an all-island collaborative framework for spatial planning through its action research programmes, technical workshops and forums, addressing three spatial scales: EU and all-island, sub-regional and local.  This third annual conference addressed current opportunities for cross-border collaboration and highlighted ICLRD activities that contribute to an understanding of the complex all-island and cross-border dynamics of change in cities, towns and rural areas.

Download conference report
Read conference press release and download conference presentations and audio files

Launch of The Atlas of the Island of Ireland

Armagh, Co. Armagh
17 January 2008 

On the occasion of the International Centre for Local and Regional Development’s (ICLRD) Third Annual Conference on January 17, 2008, ICLRD and the All-Island Research Observatory launched The Atlas of the Island of Ireland, a set of detailed full color maps and cartograms of varied socio-economic indicators across the island. Justin Gleeson, Rob Kitchin, Brendan Bartley, John Driscoll, Ronan Foley, Stewart Fotheringham and Chris Lloyd co-authored the atlas.

Pamphlet and order form for The Atlas of the Island of Ireland

Progress report, June 2007 – Implementing a Framework for Collaborative Action

Spatial Strategies on the Island of Ireland

This report provides an update of current initiatives related to developing a collaborative framework for spatial strategies on the Island of Ireland. The report also summarizes key messages and presentations from the November 2006 Conference.

Download progress report

Download Spatial Strategies on the Island of Ireland

Read more about ICLRD’s research on cross-border collaborative frameworks

Second Annual ICLRD Conference – Implementing a Framework for Collaborative Action: Spatial Strategies on the Island of Ireland

9 November 2006

The one-day conference on “Implementing a Framework for Collaborative Action: Spatial Strategies on the Island of Ireland” took place on Thursday, November 9th in Newry. As part of this event, the report Spatial Strategies on the Island of Ireland: Development of a Framework for Collaborative Action was launched. This report was prepared by ICLRD and commissioned by InterTradeIreland on behalf of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in Dublin and the Department for Regional Development in Belfast. The report outlines measures to better align spatial planning, infrastructure and cross-border projects to support long-term economic competitiveness, and has been endorsed by the Joint Communiqueacute of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference. Both Governments have now committed to developing a framework for collaborative action between the two existing spatial strategies on the Island.

The opening speakers were Mr Dick Roche TD, Irish Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, and Mr Gerry McGinn, Permanent Secretary of the Northern Ireland Department of Regional Development. Other speakers included the prominent Dublin architect Mr Sean O’Laoire, the property developer Mr Gerard O’Hare, and senior planning officials from both Irish jurisdictions and from the European Commission.

A key focus of the conference on November 9th was an examination of (a) the range of regional and local spatial planning initiatives for key development areas identified in the existing spatial strategies and (b) the role of the business community and private sector in inter-jurisdictional development.

Conference Presentations and Documents

Background and Purpose
Conference Programme
Introduction and Contextual Perspective - Professor James Walsh
ICLRD Report Findings and Recommendations - Professor Jim Berry and Mr. Brendan Bartley
Proposed Frameworks for Action - Mr. Mike Thompson and Mr. Niall Cussin
Financier’s Perspective on Spatial Planning and Infrastructure Provision - Mr. Henry Elvin
Developer’s Perspective on Spatial Planning and Infrastructure Provision - Dr. Gerard O’Hare
Managing Growth Through Spatial Planning: Learning from International Experience - Mr. John Driscoll
The Role of Mission Opérationnelle Transfrontalière in Documenting and Supporting Cross-Border Initiatives in France - Ms. Silvia Keckeis
Institutional Perspective - Mr. Michael McLoone
Developing the Ulster-Connaught Corridor: A Spatial Planning Perspective - Dr. Chris Boomer
All-Island and Cross-Border Data - Professor Rob Kitchin