A new ‘economic corridor’ aimed at strengthening ties between Northern Ireland and the Republic has the “opportunity to create thousands of better jobs”, it’s been claimed.
The link, connecting Belfast and Dublin, along with a number of other councils close to the border, aims to tackle the “challenges the region faces as it comes to terms with the impact of the UK’s exit from the EU” along with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The plans were unveiled today following the publications of a joint report by Ulster University and Dublin City University.
The report sets out the potential of the Dublin Belfast Economic Corridor to link north and south, its universities and business clusters, as well as having the ability to collaborate on a growth plan which will benefit the whole region.
“Belfast City Council is very much committed to working with the other partners to realise the full potential and opportunities that exist for the benefit of the entire region,” Belfast City Council chief executive, Suzanne Wylie, said.
“The most successful future economies will be those which focus on increasing productivity, which are more resilient to shocks and which are inclusive, addressing current inequalities.
“This corridor, anchored by two cities that are leading the way on innovation and smart districts, will have the scale and level of opportunity to create thousands of better jobs and at the same time work to solve our climate crisis as well as labour, skills and housing shortages and infrastructural underinvestment.”
The report says that “the region has a population in excess of two million people and is younger and more diverse than any other part of Ireland with 15% born off the island”.
“It also has the best educated workforce with 34% of the population holding third level qualifications thereby creating an excellent pipeline for concentrations of jobs requiring graduates”.
Councillor Christina Black, chair of Belfast City Council’s strategic policy and resources committee said: “Driven by the two largest cities in Ireland, along with the cities along the corridor that joins them, this renewed and ambitious collaboration has huge potential to drive our future economic development, and it’s encouraging to see us taking this step forward as we look ahead to our recovery from Covid.”
The eight councils involved are Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Belfast City Council, Dublin City Council, Fingal County Council, Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, Louth County Council, Meath County Council and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.