Professional Education Activities

A core activity for ICLRD is to offer professional education and capacity building programmes for public officials, civic leaders, non-governmental organisations and other practitioners involved in local, regional and national development.

Devolution in Northern Ireland, the shifting of new responsibilities to local authorities, cross-border programmes that increase the role of local governments in developing and managing their cross-border programs all point the need for new capacity building programmes.

ICLRD training activities occur through two avenues: knowledge transfer through conferences and workshops and dedicated training programmes. Our research activities and expanded networks are providing case study materials, best practices, and operational linkages to EU cross-border programmes.

Starting in 2009 we plan begin holding training programmes for both councillors and officials drawn from both jurisdictions. There is also the possibility of targeting specific areas such as the Newry/Dundalk Twin City Region or the North West to build capacity around policies and activities in support these respective Initiatives.

New Programme: CroSPlaN

In cooperation with the Centre for Cross Border Studies, the ICLRD has started an exciting new programme to develop a cross-border planning network. This initiative has been made possible through funding from the EU’s INTERREG IVA Programme; administered through the Special EU Programmes Body.

Commencing in 2009 for three years, the new network (CroSPlaN) will undertake the following activities:

* Two action research projects per year that will enhance emerging cross-border activities and expertise in the vital area of spatial planning;
* One executive training programme per year for at least 30 central and local government officials, councillors and community leaders to assist them in both delivering and supporting these activities;
* An annual conference and technical workshop; the dual function of which is to facilitate networking and address identified areas of need.

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 Sixth Annual Conference: Doing More with Less

2011 Conference >> Session 1|Session 2|Session 3|Session 4

conference2011-coverICLRD Sixth Annual Conference: Doing More with Less – Challenge and /or Opportunity?

The International Centre for Local and Regional Development (ICLRD) has just hosted its Sixth Annual Conference on the 20-21 January 2011 in the Radisson BLU Hotel, Ballincar, Sligo. Attended by 110 people representing central, regional and local government, elected representatives, policy-makers, cross-border networks, community activists, academics and representatives of the business community, the theme of this event was The Changing Business, Community and Spatial Planning Landscape: Doing More with Less.

Sponsored by the Special EU Programmes Body, the conference was organised around four sessions:

Opening and Session 1: Planning for Economic Recovery and Sustainable Growth

Session 2: Planning for Homes and People: New Challenges, New Agendas

Session 3: Planning for Shared Innovation: Infrastructure to Support Innovation-Led Recovery

Session 4: A Changing Landscape: Networking, Collaborating and Achieving Greater Efficiencies.

Recognising that the past twelve months have represented a time of significant change for the island of Ireland, the conference focused on the changing budgetary, legislative and policy landscape, and the practical realities of reduced budgets. It debated the need for implementing a period of austerity and the opportunities this can create for renaissance and resurgence.

As part of the conference, the inaugural edition of the ICLRD’s new journal, Borderlands: The Journal of Spatial Planning in Ireland, was launched by Anne Barrington and Mary Bunting, Joint Secretaries of the North South Ministerial Council. Copies of the journal are available by contacting Eimear Donnelly, Project Administrator at (028) 3751 1550 or on

IMG_0053_t IMG_0049_t IMG_0067_t


* See more conference photos *

*Read the conference report*

Fifth Annual ICLRD Conference

2010 programme cover

The fifth Annual ICLRD Conference took place on the 21-22 January 2010 in the Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen.  Attended by over 130 people representing central, regional and local government, elected representatives, policy-makers, cross-border networks, community activists, academics and representatives of the business community, the theme of this event was Preparing for Economic Recovery: Planning Ireland, North and South, out of Recession.

Sponsored by the Special EU Programmes Body with support from InterTradeIreland and the Higher Education Authority.  The conference  was organised around four sessions:

Speakers included: Declan Kelly, US Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland; John Fitzgerald of the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI); Pat McArdle, Economist and Irish Times Columnist; Conor Skehan of the Dublin Institute of Technology; Wesley Shannon of the Department of Environment, Northern Ireland; Hubert Kearns of Sligo County Council; Charlotte Kahn of the Boston Foundation’s Indicators Project; Holly St. Clair, Boston Metropolitan Planning Council; Celine McHugh of Forfás; Martin Spollen of the Strategic Investment Board; Brian Murray, The Workspace Group; and Greg Lloyd of the University of Ulster.

* 2010 Conference Report *

*2010 Conference Photos*

In opening the conference, Professor John Fitzgerald told conference delegates that “The UK faces a structural problem in its public finances of a similar order of magnitude to that in the Republic of Ireland.  However, while a very serious adjustment has been made in Ireland to put the public finances on a sustainable path to recovery, the UK has postponed all such action until after the election. Thus the Northern Ireland economy faces a number of years of very tough fiscal action in the 2011-15 period, albeit superimposed on a world economic recovery”.

In closing the two-day conference, US Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland, Declan Kelly, emphasised that indigenous development – leading to industry clusters, where feasible – will be very relevant to the long-term prosperity and successful sustainable development in today’s fast-paced business environment.

ICLRD Conf 2010 Group

As well as discussing the current economic situation across the island, a number of speakers stressed that spatial planning has a key role to play in securing economic recovery in both Irish jurisdictions.  As we move into recovery, Charlotte Khan of the Boston Indicators Project in the US emphasised the value of using data to inform and drive a shared civic agenda, thus ensuring that future policies are evidence-informed and ‘fit for purpose’.  A clear message emerging from the conference was that the economic environment of the future across the island of Ireland will be different to that of the ‘noughties’; with recovery being driven by the concentration of employment growth in major urban areas.

New ESPON Website

ESPON announced the launch of its new website New navigation and layout make it more user-friendly and easier to find information on projects, publications, events, calls, indicators and scientific tools, all related to territorial development and dynamics in Europe.

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.

The Irish Institute: Funded Study-Visits to the U.S. 2009-10

These programs are sponsored by the Irish Institute at the Center for Irish  Programs, Boston College, and the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. All program-related costs including travel, accommodation, tuition, and  the majority of meals are provided. The programs are not open to U.S. citizens, Green Card holders, or past participants of U.S. Government-funded Irish Institute programs.

Please visit the website at for an application form and to find descriptions of each program. Applications for individual programs are typically posted 8-10 weeks in advance.

The programs include:

  1. Positive Identity Politics
  2. Environmental Policymaking
  3. Education for Citizenship
  4. Sustainable Civic Government
  5. Political Journalism
  6. Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability for Smaller Businesses
  7. Women’s Health and Wellness

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.