The Border Counties Forum – it`s time for the Border Counties to stand together.
At a time in November 2011 when the Government of the Republic of Ireland proposed to increase VAT to 23% regardless of its impact on trade in the Border Counties; at a time when the Northern Ireland Executive had issued its draft Northern Ireland Economic Strategy without any reference whatsoever to regional development, there had never been a more appropriate time for the Border Counties to make a stand and demand that both Governments make proper provision for the development and revival of the Border Counties. For too long the deprivation of the Border Counties has been allowed to occur. Consequently, business and living standards have suffered. This part of the country comprises over 1 million people. It is time that we worked together to promote our region.
At times of economic recession Governments tend to concentrate on the harder issues of relevance to the central region nearer to the major cities and consequently the Border Regions could be ignored. Now more than ever it is time for the Border Counties to work together to promote their respective regions. If they did not do so now the Border Counties will lose out in the long term. This is particularly important when it is considered that there is European funding for Cross Border development projects but this funding will only be available in the short-term.
It is important that any such co-operation in the Central Border Region should take place under the control of the local authorities both North and South; rather than under the control of Chambers of Commerce or other business entities because the local authorities have the statutory power to bring forward projects and also to make a more sound application to access European / INTERREG funding for development projects. It is only the local authorities, working together, who can put concrete projects on the ground.
It is however time for the people of the Central Border Region and businesses to create a forum to prompt greater understanding of the needs of this region and to ensure that the respective Governments and local authorities North and South take appropriate action immediately to revive the Border Region Economy and ensure that it comes out of this Recession. Furthermore, we should make it clear to the Government of the Republic of Ireland and the Northern Ireland Executive that we will not tolerate taxation measures which penalize the Border Counties or measures which fail to take account of the unique needs of the Border Counties.
With this in mind, a Linkedin Group called the Border Counties Forum has been formed at http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Border-Counties-Forum-4182759?trk=myg_ugrp_ovr . This will be supported by BLOGS on this website which will be linked onto the Linkedin Group page.
We invite people throughout the Border Counties to join this Linkedin Group and to join in the discussion. Out of this we may form the basis for a more structured lobby group to be formed in the future. We won`t create miracles overnight but we may change a political mindset in a very short time.
We want to express our gratitude to Aura Internet – www.aura.ie – of Aura House, 40 Farney Street, Carrickmacross, County Monaghan for the provision of this Website. As a gesture of its dedicated support to businesses in the Border region Aura Internet have provided their services for free in the creation and hosting of this Website. For further information on their services we recommend that you visit their website at www.aura.ie .