Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune (FG) recently chaired an event in Kilkenny to highlight the Ireland-Wales cross-border programme of the European Union, the overall funding value of which has been increased to €100 million between now and 2020.
Utilising €79m in European Regional Development Funding (ERDF), the European Commission-approved programme aims to provide EU funds to generate jobs, innovation and environmental protection both our east coast and the west coast of Wales.
The Ireland Wales programme aims to further develop Irish Welsh co-operation in the areas of employment, innovation, climate change and sustainable development.
Managed in Ireland by the Waterford-based Southern and Eastern Regional Assembly on behalf of the Irish Government, the Welsh Government and the European Commission, the Programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Speaking at the Ormonde Hotel, Deirdre Clune described the event as “an informative session where people could find out exactly how to apply for funding from the Wales Ireland Programme”.
S&E Assembly Director Stephen Blair and colleague Breda Curran said that developing an appraisal, summary and a comprehensive business plan to back up a funding proposal was essential to establishing its potential.
A wide and interesting array of speakers presented at the seminar, including Welsh MEP Jill Evans (Plaid Cymru) who spoke about the programme from a Welsh perspective.
Francis Jacob, the Head of European Parliament Office in Ireland, provided the context to the event and gave a comprehensive background to Cross Border Cooperation Programmes.
Before Mr Blair offered closing comments on the event, Michael Moroney, the head of Tipperary County Council’s Strategic Project Unit (in Community & Economic Development), provided an illuminating business case study.
Mr Mooney examined the R&D and knowledge exchange needs of SMEs and microenterprises, illustrating how SMEs can capitalise on new internet-related business models and associated communication technologies.
He spoke about how SME beneficiaries can be facilitated to explore ways to liberate their ideas and to develop business practices conducive to creative discovery.
Another interesting insight was provided by Derek O’Neill, the manager of Project Futsal, which was funded through the Ireland-Wales Programme (2007-13) and he told delegates about the FAI’s relationship with the Welsh Football Trust. The project has led to the upskilling in football among those in long-term unemployment.
The project has worked to integrate disability football into mainstream football clubs and ultimately facilitated a longitudinal study into the impact of such a programme on communities.
Building enthusiasm is important, said Stephen Blair, “and our office on O’Connell Street is always available to help and assist in any way we can in terms of advice, assistance and feedback”.
With Tramore Tourism moving forward with a Welsh partner at present, with potential for Dunmore and Passage East to do likewise, there are clear gains to be made for our coastal communities to engage with our Welsh neighbours.
The new 2014 – 2020 Wales Ireland programme builds on a previous EU-backed Ireland-Wales programme which assisted over 1,700 businesses, and created 100 new businesses and almost 300 new jobs between 2007 and 2014.
* You can also follow both programmes on Twitter: @irelandwales and @wefowales for continual updates – while Breda Curran’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like further information about the Ireland Wales Programme or you have an idea for funding please contact:IrelandWalesCrossBorderProgramme@wales.gsi.gov.uk