Northern Ireland news

New survey finds conditions for north-south cooperation have deteriorated due to political instability

Dr Anthony Soares, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies

THE conditions for north-south cooperation have deteriorated due to political instability, a new survey has found.

The politicisation of Brexit and the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol were highlighted by respondents as a cause of the stagnation due to the erosion of relations.

The report by the Centre for Cross Border Studies also found that while levels of east-west cooperation had stayed the same, respondents indicated a lack of trust in the British government and local politicians to address issues.

Carried out last month, it is the centre's third quarterly survey on the conditions for north-south and east-west cooperation.

The responses are used by the centre to assess how the necessary conditions for cross-border cooperation are being maintained and how relations between organisations in Ireland and Britain are being safe-guarded since Brexit and the partial implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The survey results comes amid ongoing political frictions surrounding the NI Protocol and North-South Ministerial Council.

Dr Anthony Soares, director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies, said he is "increasingly concerned that there has been no improvement in the political conditions for north/south cooperation since our previous findings in July".

"Whilst it is expected that cooperation may dwindle occasionally, it is alarming that cooperation has stagnated during a period when we need it most," he said.

"Cooperation across these islands is the only solution to the problems we face.

"I believe we can improve the political conditions for cooperation across these islands, but this can only be done through honest and respectful dialogue between all parties to deal with the sensitivities surrounding the Northern Ireland Protocol.

"Since becoming director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in 2019, it is apparent to me that there is a willingness from society to cooperate across our islands for the benefit of all.

"That is why our decision-makers should strive to find solutions to the barriers of greater cooperation."

Dr Soares added that "stability is needed for cross-border co-operation and collaboration".

"All parties must come to an agreement on the working of the Protocol and governments must engage on cross cutting issues," he said.

"We note and welcome the negotiations currently taking place between the British government and the European Union to find an agreement.”

"As a centre we will work to continually promote dialogue and cooperation to ensure the vision of a reconciled and peaceful society, underpinned by all three strands of the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement is a reality."

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