Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has met with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness to discuss the difficulties faced by citizens and businesses in the counties along the border corridor, and to examine ways in which the economic potential of the border corridor zone can be maximised.
The Sinn Féin leader said:
“Currently island wide trade generates £3 billion annually. There is significant potential to grow this. There are already a number of cross border initiatives in existence which can be built upon.
InterTradeIreland was set up to promote trade and business on an all-island and cross-border basis and for the enhancement of the global competitiveness of the all-island economy to the mutual benefit of both jurisdictions.
The Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and Louth County Council have a Memorandum of Understanding which has the aim of practically easing the affects of the border.
The North West Gateway Initiative was established to foster and encourage economic growth in the North West area, covering the Derry, Limavady, Strabane and Donegal Council Areas. The objective is to provide a focus for sustained cooperative action from the two Governments which, over a period of time, would make a real difference to the region.
And the Stormont House Agreement also contains a commitment for relevant Ministers from North and South in the North West to consider strategic approaches to the development of the region as envisaged in the North West Gateway Initiative.”
Gerry Adams said:
“Partition is the greatest obstacle to economic growth across Ireland. It has stalled our potential for economic and social growth. But it is the people and businesses along the border that pay the daily price of partition.
The lack of investment and the application of structured discrimination, especially in the north, has ensured that the border region suffers from higher than average levels of unemployment, emigration, stunted economic growth and high levels of deprivation.
It’s time to unleash the potential of the island economy.
There is a natural draw towards the greater integration of services, structures and bodies on an all-Ireland basis in order to deliver quality services and economies of scale. The same logic applies when it comes to driving sustainable and fair economic growth.
It makes no sense for six and a half million people to be split into two separate tax, currency and legal systems, and with two separate economies in competition with each other. Combining our strength, in agriculture, life sciences, and across all sectors will deliver greater economic growth.
To achieve this we must address once and for all the barriers to economic growth across Ireland. We must ensure our economy delivers for all people and eradicate economic inequality. The first step must be to build a viable integrated system – a border corridor economic zone – that works for those who live and work along the border.”
Martin McGuinness added:
“It is vital that both administrations on this island work together to prioritise economic development across the island, and to address the challenges facing border businesses. It’s time to agree a timescale and plan to build a Border Development zone to harmonise trade and maximise returns for border businesses and the island economy.
Sinn Féin believe that is time to remove the barriers to island-wide trade; to reduce transaction costs for border business, to remove barriers which prevent the transfer of staff north and south and to build island wide co-operation and trade. If we are to achieve this we must also work together to upgrade our island-wide transport infrastructure.”