Agenda item

Update on Framework of Regional Priorities for the Central Border Region, 2021-2027 strategic document


Councillor Des Guckian queried what is the Central Border Region.


Mr Joseph Gilhooly outlined that a cross border partnership was identified by local authorities within the Central Border Region in the early 1990s which led to the formal establishment of the Irish Central Border Area Network (ICBAN) in 1995. ICBAN was founded to promote cross-border co-operation and communication at a Local Government level on common regional development concerns. This provided a forum to respond to the unique economic and social needs of the Central Border Region.


The eight Member Councils areas of the Central Border Region includes Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon; Fermanagh and Omagh; Mid Ulster and the counties of Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan and Sligo. Many of these areas share similar geographical, economic, social, administrative, and political characteristics.


Cathaoirleach, Councillor Mary Bohan welcomed to the meeting ICBAN Chair, Cllr Eamon Mc Neill, Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council, ICBAN Co-Treasurer, Cllr Sam Nicholson, Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council and Mr Shane Campbell, CEO ICBAN.


Cllr Eamon McNeill thanked the Members for affording him, Cllr Nicholson and Mr Shane Campbell the opportunity to attend the meeting and to make a presentation to the Members of Leitrim County Council on the Framework of Regional Priorities for the Central Border Region for the period 2021-2027.


A copy of the presentation delivered by Mr Shane Campbell, CEO ICBAN to the members appears as Appendix 4 to the Minutes of this meeting in the Minute Book.


The Cathaoirleach, Councillor Mary Bohan invited any questions/comments from the Members.


Councillor Paddy O’Rourke welcomed Cllr Eamon Mc Neill, Cllr Sam Nicholson and Mr Shane Campbell to the meeting and thanked them for their presentation and asked what support Northern Ireland Local Authorities are giving to the development of the programme.


Councillor Sean McDermott paid tribute to large amount of funding that is coming to Leitrim and acknowledged the role ICBAN played in the development of The Hive in Carrick-on-Shannon.  Councillor Sean McDermott welcomed that greenways have been included in the programme and asked what input can ICBAN have on greenway projects such as the SLNCR, to bring them to fruition.


Cllr Sam Nicholson confirmed that Northern Local Authorities fully endorse the SLNCR project and they have shared issues and there is a lot of commonality.  As Chair of the Mid-South Western Border Region, he acknowledged that cross border funding projects are coming through this region.  He acknowledged that Brexit will not be easy, but all parties must work together to find solutions to the problems it presents.  The provision of broadband is essential especially during the current climate that we are in.


Mr Shane Campbell said ICBAN provides opportunities for 8 Councils with a common approach and response. Northern Ireland Authorities have always supported this programme. The plan ensures projects cover the wider region, it promotes and creates opportunities for projects and provides support for them over the next 5 to 7 years despite Brexit and the pandemic. Input from key stakeholders and member councils is very important to ensure there is good communication.


Councillor Brendan Barry welcomed the concept of new greenways linking up with existing greenways.  Cllr Barry asked if ICBAN can have an input in connecting the Ulster Way with the Beara-Breffni Way and Leitrim/Sligo way.


Councillor Padraig Fallon welcomed the Farm to Fork concept and outlined that agriculture is important to Leitrim and surrounding counties.  Cllr Fallon said a number of marts have concerns about how the livestock trade between Leitrim and Fermanagh and other counties in Northern Ireland will be impacted he asked what ICBAN can do in policy terms to limit the impact of any restriction to the movement of livestock. 


Councillor Justin Warnock acknowledged that Farm to Fork is one of the top concepts in the plan which is very important for Agriculture and he queried if this relates to specialised farming and what initiatives would be included for Agri Tourism.


Mr Shane Campbell said ICBAN can assist in greenways happening.


Cllr Sam Nicholson outlined that Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council have been very proactive in the development of 4 greenways which are now ready for funding. Cllr Nicholson said that greenway projects should not stop at the border. Any greenway project that comes to the border, can be linked to existing greenways in Northern Ireland.


Cllr Nicholson said it is very important for all counties along the border to develop Agri Tourism.


Mr Shane Campbell said the issue raised by Cllr Fallon in relation to marts and restrictions regarding livestock, needs to be raised by the Elected Representatives/Officers with the Board of ICBAN for consideration and support.


Cllr Eamon McNeill thanked all Members for their input and acknowledged that it is great to work with other local authorities across the island.


Cathaoirleach, Councillor Mary Bohan thanked Cllr Eamon McNeill Cllr Sam Nicholas, and Mr Shane Campbell for attending the meeting and looked forward to ICBAN working with Leitrim County Council’s two representatives and hoped to see fruition on  projects in the future.


On the PROPOSAL of Cllr. Sean McDermott

            SECONDED by Cllr. Paddy O’Rourke


It was AGREED that Leitrim County Council adopt the 5 project concepts outlined in the Framework Plan.