Members of the North West Regional Development Group have welcomed news that the North West City Region has been awarded funding for a series of innovative projects under the Irish Government’s Shared Island Local Authority Development Funding Scheme that was announced by An Taoiseach Micheál Martin in Cavan yesterday.
As part of the scheme, local authorities across the island of Ireland including Donegal County Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council will be working collaboratively on a cross-border basis to bring to forward a number of exciting and innovative new projects through feasibility or pre-planning stages.
As part of the formal announcement that was made, Donegal County Council will take the lead on three projects in partnership with Derry City and Strabane District Council. They include the Sli Colmcille pilgrimage route project, a North West De-carb Exemplar Decarbonised Public Building and Transportation project and a NW Regulatory Technology Cluster.
The North West De-carb Exemplar Decarbonised Public Building and Transportation Project sees both Councils making a commitment to the North West region to become a leader in achieving national and international climate change targets and becoming carbon neutral by 2045. The North West Regional Energy Agency will be the vehicle to deliver this cross border exemplar project to inspire its carbon neutral journey.
The North West Regulatory Tech Cluster project will see the two Councils working with partners to develop a cross border, all island national institute in Reg Tech, bringing companies, academics and public bodies together to drive world class research and innovation. The Institute will have campuses in Letterkenny, Derry and Belfast and work across all sectors to accelerate digital and data driven regional innovation which in turn will unlock economic benefits.
The Sli Cholmcille Project will see the two Councils develop a pilgrimage linking key Cholmcille related sites across the cross border landscape to support tourism development, recreation and connection with communities through a shared heritage of the saint.
The Shared Island chapter is included in the Irish Government’s National Development Plan that outlines its commitment to support the work of cross-border local authority partnerships and provides support to pursue opportunities for collaborative investment and working.
Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Cllr. Liam Blaney welcomed the announcement and said that the funding would be a catalyst to drive growth in the North West City Region.
He said “We are delighted to welcome this significant funding support from the Shared Island Local Authority Development Fund to develop a range of innovative and collaborative projects with our colleagues in Derry City & Strabane and Fermanagh & Omagh District Councils. This funding will lay the foundation for Donegal and the North West City region to drive further economic development in collaboration with our counterparts in Northern Ireland.’’
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Sandra Duffy said continued collaborative cross border working was essential to bringing about investment, regeneration and connectivity to the North West City region.
She said: “The Councils in Derry Strabane and Donegal already have a very strong working relationship and these projects will help cement the work already been done and allow us to continue to work in partnership to bring about projects that will benefit the region as a whole.”
Chairperson of the North West Regional Development Group Alderman Derek Hussey welcomed the announcement and said partnership working was key to making all local authorities work more effectively and collaboratively.
“I think it is imperative that Councils work together to share their experiences and expertise. By working collaboratively we can face our opportunities and challenges together in a joint approach. The North West Regional Development Group looks forward to seeing these projects being developed to assist us with the important work we are doing in terms of driving regional social and economic growth and environmental wellbeing.”
In addition Donegal County Council, in collaboration with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, will develop a further two projects as part of the Share Island Local Authority Development Funding Scheme.
Seed funding has been awarded for feasibility to develop twin cross-border Innovation Plazas in South Donegal and Irvinestown, Fermanagh. The feasibility study will explore enterprise opportunities in sectors such as renewable energy, advanced manufacturing & engineering and agri-food.
Financial support has also been given to develop an ambitious regenerative tourism project along the Donegal-Fermanagh rural border region involving engagement with the region’s place, past and people, seeking to attract high-yield environmentally-conscious visitors.