Slieve Gullion Councillor Pete Byrne has said the continued collaboration between Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and Louth County Council will be key to safeguarding the local economy and the wellbeing of citizens in the border region following Brexit. He made these remarks following a discussion of the Newry, Mourne and Down District Council’s draft consultation response to Ireland’s 2040 National Planning Framework at a recent Council meeting.

Cllr Pete Byrne.
Cllr Pete Byrne.

Byrne said, ‘The Ireland 2040 ‘Our Plan’ consultation in the South is something we as a border Council cannot ignore. The aim of the 2040 consultation is to set out the Republic of Ireland government’s long term strategic planning framework that will guide national, regional and local planning and investment decisions in the South for the next 25 years and it is important that we as a border council should feed into this process. With Brexit being our biggest threat in the years ahead, the need for cross border collaboration with border councils has never been more apparent to the safeguarding of our region.’

‘While our Council hasn’t been formally consulted in relation to Ireland 2040, I do welcome our officials being proactive with the work it has done to provide a response and I also welcome its inclusion on the agenda of the next Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Louth County Council.  Our counterparts in Louth are already ahead of the game in recognising the importance of cross-border collaboration stating in a submission paper earlier this year that there should be a focus on joint agreements between our Councils and other cross border documents which dictates a more holistic all island approach in future.’

'Last month I joined a Council delegation as Chairperson of the Enterprise Regeneration and Tourism Committee on an engagement to Brussels to launch a collaborative document 'Brexit and the Border Corridor' with colleagues from Councils on both sides of the border. We sent a clear message to European leaders that Brexit will have a negative impact on our region. This is just one example of the joint up approach to tackling the issue of Brexit and it is something I would certainly encourage going forward.'

‘I would also like encourage those representatives who were critical of this document to embrace cross border cooperation. The border region is facing huge challenges in the years ahead and it is important to recognise opportunities as well as the risks. To ignore any of these because of a fixation with a nationalist or unionist perspective is a disservice to the people we represent. This is not a black and white issue and should not be trivialised. Let’s utilise our cross-border structures particularly our MOU with Louth County Council to recognise any potential opportunities or threats coming our way in order to protect our economy and secure the well-being of our citizens.’