Mr. John D. Taylor
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what funds exist to encourage(a) cross-border co-operation between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and (b) co-operation between Northern Ireland and Scotland.
§ Sir John Wheeler
Under the EC structural funds, the Interreg initiative is especially designed to encourage cross-border co-operation and to develop border areas. Northern Ireland submitted a programme jointly with the Republic of Ireland for 1991 to 1993 and it is proposed to submit a follow-on programme. Approximately £60 million has been made available under the joint Interreg programme for Northern Ireland and Ireland for 1991–93. In addition, in preparing new development plans for 1994–99, both the British and Irish Governments have paid close attention to the opportunities for expanding economic collaboration in the context of the next round of assistance from the structural funds.
Since 1990 the Department of Education has made available funding of £2,000 per annum to facilitate short-term teacher exchanges between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland; in addition some £150,000 per annum is made available for the promotion of international networks, mainly European, including schools in the Republic of Ireland and Scotland.
Funding is also available from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for ad hoc projects where cross-border co-operation would be mutually beneficial.
In addition the Department of Economic Development in collaboration with Republic of Ireland has organised two energy efficiency conferences at a cost of £6,200 and a cross-border trade conference at a cost of £10,000
Finally, the International Fund for Ireland, which was established jointly by the United Kingdom and Irish Governments in 1986, operates under an independent board with the objectives of
- (a) promoting economic and social advance;
- (b) encouraging contact, dialogue and reconciliation between nationalists and unionists throughout Ireland.