Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Cross-Border Co-operation.

Wednesday, 10 December 1980

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 325 No. 5

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8.

Dr. FitzGerald:  and Mr. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will indicate in detail the funds and resources which have been made available to date for cross-Border co-operation by (a) the Republic, (b) the United Kingdom and (c) the EEC; whether he considers same to be adequate; and, if not, the steps being taken to secure an increase.

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  In view of the length of the detailed reply to the Deputies' questions in this case, with the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, I propose to circulate with the Official Report a statement setting out the position.

Following is the statement:

[826] I would like to deal with the Deputies' question under the headings of (a) Cross-Border Studies, (b) Cross-Border Drainage Schemes, (c) Cross-Border Non-Quota Section (ERDF) proposals and (d) ERDF Assistance in the Border Areas.

(a) Cross-Border Studies

To date four studies of the Border areas have been carried out jointly by the Irish and British Governments. In three of these cases the European Commission have also participated and contributed to half of the cost of undertaking the studies. These studies are the Derry-Donegal Communications Study, which cost approximately £75,000 and was completed in November 1977, the Erne Catchment Study, which cost approximately £80,000 and was completed in June 1980 and the Mourne Herring Fishery Study, which cost approximately £130,000 and was completed in March 1980. Of the total approximate cost incurred of £285,000 an amount of £142,500 has been paid by the European Commission and £71,250 each by the Irish and British Governments.

The fourth study, which was carried out by the Irish and British Governments of the Newry-Dundalk area, was completed in 1980. This study was carried out by officials and there was no direct expenditure involved. A further study of the tourism potential for the Newry-Dundalk area is being carried out by Bord Fáilte and the Northern Ireland Tourism Board. Again in this case there is no direct public expenditure involved and the costs involved are being borne from the resources of the two tourism boards.

(b) Cross-Border Drainage

The Council of Ministers approved, on 6 February 1979, a drainage programme for catchment areas on both sides of the Border. The Council agreed to support the programme up to a maximum contribution of 8 million European units of account(IR£5 million approximately) or, if less than this maximum, to provide 50 per cent of the total combined costs to the Irish and British Governments of whatever drainage schemes were undertaken. The grant will be used by the Office of Public Works and the NI [827] Department of Agriculture for work on the Ulster Blackwater and Finn-Lackey (Erne tributary) catchments. The drainage schemes for the programme are in the course of preparation but the estimated cost is not yet known. Expenditure incurred by the Irish and British Governments to date in the preparation of the schemes (field surveys, design and so on) is respectively as follows: IR£200,000 approximately and UK sterling £130,000 approximately.

(c) Cross-Border Non-Quota Section (ERDF Proposals)

The regulations for use of the Non-Quota Section of the Regional Fund for, inter alia, Irish cross-Border projects were adopted by the Council on 7 October 1980. These regulations cover a five-year programme, 1980-85. The measures for Ireland relate to the development of tourism and craft industries in Border areas North and South and the financial allocation is £16 million comprising £10.7 million for the southern Border areas and £5.30 million for northern Border areas. The Non-Quota Section aid will be matched by aid from the Irish Government making a total of £20.5 million available to the fund. Similar joint financing will operate on the Northern side of the Border. The areas eligible for this Non-Quota Section aid are Counties Donegal, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth on the Northern side of the Border and the District Council areas of Derry, Strabane, Omagh, Fermanagh, Dungannon, Armagh and Newry and Mourne. The Irish Government have decided to set up a new and separate fund for the implementation of the programme on this side of the Border. The creation of the special fund should ensure the speedy implementation of the programme which has already been submitted to the EEC Commission for consideration. The Northern Ireland authorities have not yet announced the manner in which the Non-Quota Section measures will operate on the Northern side of the Border.

(d) ERDF Assistance in the Border Areas

[828] The total investment in industrial and infrastructural development projects in the five Southern Border counties for which ERDF assistance has been received in the period 1975-1979 amounts to approximately £80 million of which approximately £14.6 million has been committed from the ERDF. I have no details of the equivalent figure for the five Northern Border counties. The Deputies will appreciate that within the figures I have quoted above it is difficult to isolate specific amounts or projects which may be regarded as contributing to cross-Border economic development. The various joint cross-Border studies have, however, helped to identify projects which contribute to cross-Border economic development. Most of these studies have only recently been completed and commitment to implementation, particularly in relation to the Erne Catchment Study which covers a substantial part of the Border, has yet to be decided upon. However the Derry-Donegal Report has been completed since 1977 and progress has been made with EEC assistance towards implementation of the recommendations of that report which were recognised as contributing to cross-Border development in that area. The Deputies will find details of the financial commitments to these projects in the “Reports to Ministers on Economic Co-operation” which was published in June 1980. The only major addition to the information in that report is the provision of an additional £305,000 for cross-Border roads in the Donegal area in 1980.

There is very reason to believe that further applications from both Governments for projects in the Border areas will also be considered favourably within the resources of the ERDF and that the area as a whole will continue to benefit from Community assistance. Particularly with the availability of the money under the Non-Quota Section of the ERDF I think the Deputies will appreciate that good progress has been made. We will, of course, take advantage of any other suitable opportunities which present themselves to attract to the Border [829] areas any additional resources that may become available.

Mr. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  In the absence of figures, I am interested in the question of securing an increase. Is the Minister aware of the excellent work being carried out by an organisation called Co-operation North who recently indicated that they were convinced that a commitment of adequate funds and resources by both Governments to an intensified programme of co-operation would help to facilitate economic and social progress in relation to Northern Ireland? Does the Minister accept that is a fair statement of the situation and would he indicate the Government's response?

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  We have drawn up a plan for the expenditure of the non-quota allotment over the next four years. I agree with the Deputy that within the resources of the overall regional fund grant we will be concentrating on projects relating to cross-Border works.

Mr. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  Is the Minister committed to providing any extra funds that may be needed?

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  There will be a bigger share for works and projects in the cross-Border area.

Mr. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  Would the Minister indicate the additional funds that will be made available here?

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  We do not have the allocation yet. We will have to wait until we get it.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Without going into details, which are obviously complex, would the Minister give the three figures of the total sum to date made available by the Republic, the UK and the EEC.

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  I am talking about the non-quota allocation. The financial allocation is £16 million, comprising £10.7 million for the Southern Border areas and £5.30 million for Northern Border areas. The non-quota aid will be matched [830] by aid from the Irish Government making a total of £20.5 million altogether. I do not have the figures for the actual allocation on the quota side; that is the overall regional fund allocation.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  The question relates to sums made available to date. These are sums allocated. How much money has actually come from the Irish Government, the British Government and the EEC? How much has been spent?

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  The total investment in industrial infrastructural development projects in the five Southern Border counties, for which overall fund assistance has been received in the period 1975-1979, amounts approximately to £80 million.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  From which source?

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  It is set out in the statement.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan-Monaghan): On the allocation of £20 million will the Minister see that it is devoted to the five Border counties and that none of it is applied to counties outside of those?

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  The Deputy can be sure that it specifies these particular projects in those counties.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan-Monaghan): Does that mean that what was made available to Sligo should not have been made available?


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