Northern Ireland news

Dublin publishes all-island education and health proposals

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said research and innovation was central to economic and societal progress

A SERIES of papers examining economic and social opportunities from increased cooperation on a shared island have been made public.

Four projects in 2021 are looking at areas of the services economy, enterprise, health and education.

Research findings will be published later this year.

They are the first scoping papers from the joint programme between the Department of the Taoiseach's Shared Island Unit and the Economic Social and Research Institute (ESRI).

They form part of a research programme on The Economic and Social Opportunities from Increased Cooperation on the Shared Island.

It is hoped that the four topics will add to the understanding of current and potential linkages north and south in a range of economic, social and environmental areas.

They will set out key questions, issues and knowledge gaps; the policy context, in the north and Republic and the research design and methods.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said research and innovation was central to economic and societal progress.

"I have always been a strong champion for comprehensive and well-resourced research programmes. Research to deepen understanding of the island is a core part of the Shared Island initiative," he said.

"This collaboration with the ESRI will produce research outputs, across a range of areas this year, which will contribute to the conversation about how we can work together across this island, taking up the full potential of the Good Friday Agreement.

"As we recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and work through the consequences of Brexit, the research being undertaken in this programme with the ESRI will provide substantive analysis and evidence, which will inform the government's approach in developing our Shared Island initiative."

ESRI Director Professor Alan Barrett said there were many reasons for the research programme.

"First, we live on an island where we have two systems to deliver social services such as health and education. This creates a great opportunity to learn about what works best for our citizens. Indeed, it's a standard approach to research in countries where systems might differ due to local autonomy," he said.

"Second, there are many opportunities for increased collaboration and connection across the island which can yield benefits for all. We want to learn more about those connections so that they can be expanded. There has been a lack of comparative research in the past and this joint research programme will have value in providing new insights for policy."

Chair of the joint research programme Anne Barrington said increased cooperation was most effectively pursued through inclusive engagement and consensus-building with all stakeholders, "an exercise that is greatly assisted with robust data and evidence, and rigorous, non-partisan analysis on needs, opportunities, benefits and costs".

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