Deputy Brendan Smith

Central border region needs to be protected – Smith

A local Fianna Fáil TD has highlighted the need to further develop the central border region as part of the All-Ireland economy.

Cavan-Monaghan TD Brendan Smith told the Dáil economic opportunities need to be grasped and the challenges that face the central border region must be addressed.

Deputy Smith said the All-Ireland economy exists, is growing and is being strengthened every day, and that between 1998 and 2022 cross-border trade in goods and services had increased threefold to well in excess of €11 billion.

“We welcome that development because a particularly important element of cross-Border trade is its significance to small and medium-sized enterprises, SMEs. We all know that for many SMEs, their first export market is to the neighbouring jurisdiction, North to South and South to North,” he said.

“The importance of cross-border trade for areas like Cavan, Monaghan and Fermanagh must not be minimised.

“I refer to the particular challenges and opportunities for the central Border region. We all know that the more densely populated urban centres on the Dublin-Belfast line will grow despite whatever economic challenges arise. We need to prepare and grasp the opportunities and deal with the challenges that will affect the central Border region area.”

The Taoiseach in response said he agreed with Deputy’s Smith, saying the all-island economy is “real and growing”.

“I do not think it should be seen as a threat to trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. It is not a case of either-or. Northern Ireland can increase its trade in both directions and with the wider world, in my view, and that is what we want to happen. The Deputy made a strong case for making sure that the central Border region is always on our agenda. We speak a lot about the north west, such as Derry and Donegal, and we speak a lot about the Dublin-Belfast economic corridor. It can be easy to forget about the huge region in between, which also has economic needs and potential.”