A PLAN to boost the Columban Way pilgrim route and the development of cross-border 'innovation plazas' are among successful projects to be awarded Shared Island funding.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced 25 projects to benefit from the Shared Island Local Authority Development Funding Scheme, saying the projects would "help bring more energy, innovation and impact to cross-border cooperation in the time ahead".
Over €4.3 million has been allocated for the projects, which are being led by 15 councils in the Republic and nine in the north, including Belfast City Council and Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon council.
The projects are spread across a range of sectors including biodiversity, tourism, decarbonisation, the circular economy, rural and urban regeneration, education and cultural and creative industries.
The All-Ireland Columban Way Feasibility Study will receive €250,000 to scope the development of a fully connected route for pilgrims following in the footsteps of St Columbanus.
A project to examine the development of 'innovation plazas' in Ivrinestown, Co Fermanagh, and Donegal's Ballyshannon is to receive €176,000, with the aim of fostering enterprise opportunities in areas including renewable energy.
Other projects include a tourism plan for the Sliabh Beagh area straddling counties Monaghan, Fermanagh and Tyrone.
Mr Martin said: "I am not only struck by the diverse range of projects which have come through the process, I am particularly pleased to see such a significant geographic spread across the island.
“Local authorities in the border region have long-standing partnerships with their northern counterparts, which I hope will be further enhanced through schemes such as this, and it’s important that there are also newer partnerships such as the projects involving Waterford and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and Kerry, Cork, Donegal and Ards and North Down Borough Council that can contribute to the Shared Island vision of communities north and south working together on shared opportunities."
The taoiseach added: "The Good Friday Agreement is fundamentally about working across our communities and borders in practical ways for a better and more reconciled island. Local authorities have always been a vital part of that endeavour."