Taoiseach | Shared Island Initiative communications
To ask the Taoiseach if he plans to advance the Shared Island Initiative in discussion with the newly elected British Prime Minister.
To ask the Taoiseach his proposals to advance the Shared Island Initiative with particular emphasis on the need to ensure ongoing dialogue at all levels to move all parties in the direction of peaceful equilibrium.
Through the Government’s Shared Island initiative, we are engaging with all communities and traditions to build consensus around a shared future; and delivering tangible benefits for the whole island, underpinned by the Good Friday Agreement.
In the Budget last week, the Government confirmed an allocation of €100m to our Shared Island Fund for 2023 consistent with our commitment to the Fund and to take forward our all-island investment priorities under the revised National Development Plan.
We are working through all-island partnerships, with the Executive, Local Authorities, education institutions and civil society.
I have been very clear throughout that we see scope for a strong East-West dimension to the Shared Island Initiative and I see real potential for strategic investment by the Irish and British Governments for shared objectives and priorities, for instance on All-Island Research Hubs. I took the opportunity of my recent meeting with Prime Minister Truss to flag the Shared Island Initiative to her.
On 4 July, the Government allocated €70.4 million from the Shared Island Fund to take forward new cross-border schemes on community climate action; EV charging infrastructure roll-out; Arts investment projects; and, development of new Local Authority projects.
We also made an enabling allocation from the Fund for Phase 3 of the Ulster Canal restoration. On 30 August, I laid the foundation stone for Phase 2 of the Ulster Canal restoration, which is fully-funded by Government including through the Shared Island Fund, and on track to be completed next year.
On 29 September, I and the Minister for Housing, Heritage and Local Government announced 25 awards totalling more than €4.3 million under the Shared Island Local Authority Development Funding Scheme, at an event in Cavan which brought together 23 different Councils from across the island.
Through the Scheme they are now working in cross-border partnerships to progress feasibility work over the next year on new collaborative investment projects, with a view to accessing further funding in both jurisdictions for delivery stage, including through the Shared Island Fund.
Projects address shared concerns for the island including on biodiversity, sustainable tourism, circular economy, innovation; and cultural and creative industries.
The Shared Island research Programme commissioned by my Department is continuing. Final reports from the Economic and Social Research Institute will be published later this month on productivity levels on the island; and, next month, on coordination of renewable energy policies and electricity infrastructure.
The Government’s focus is on inclusive civic engagement with all communities and political traditions. The Shared Island Dialogue series has so far directly involved some 2,000 citizens and civic representatives through 11 dialogue events.
On 29 June, I addressed a Dialogue with over 150 young people in attendance in Derry on the theme of Identities on a Shared Island.
The next Dialogue will be on Arts and Culture at Queen’s University in Belfast on 13 October, with participation by Minister Catherine Martin TD for the Government and Executive Minister for Communities Deirdre Hargey MLA.
On 29 September, I participated in the launch of the first report of the All-Island Women’s Forum; and on Monday (3 October) I launched the report of the iCommunity hub led by The Wheel and Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action.
Both projects followed on from our Shared Island engagements, and supported by the Government are forging significant new civic connections and making recommendations on common concerns for communities across the island. The Government will positively consider their recommendations, as all Departments work to develop new investment, policy and cooperation projects to contribute to our Shared Island initiative.
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