Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Peadar Tóibín TD, has outlined the potential benefits of converging public services such as health, education and enterprise development on all All-Ireland basis.
Deputy Tóibín said:
“Ireland, north and south has limited financial resources and if we are to properly benefit from these resources we need to make the best use of them. If we are to raise living standards and increase the delivery of key public services, if we are to make the best use of the 6.5 million people strong market on the island so that we can create jobs and prosperity, then we need to make best use of the assets that we have.
“That’s not where we are today unfortunately. Key public services such as health and education and enterprise development are planned separately, funded separately and delivered separately at the cost of the citizen north and south. Lack of convergence in education means that northern participation in the south’s universities is as its lowest ebb ever. If a southerner wanted to take an available space at a northern enterprise course a few miles away they couldn’t. People along the border have to ignore the A&E next to them and travel two and three times the journey to the next one in their own jurisdiction.
"The border is a key success factor for crime. In a crazy situation reminiscent of the Dukes of Hazard the police have to stop at the county line. In most economies the periphery suffers economically. But in Ireland, the border artificially manufactures an extra periphery, extending it to 11 counties. This financially illogical situation is artificially manufacturing poverty, emigration and disadvantage at a shocking scale.
“It does not have to be this way. Next year in Altnagelvin Hospital a new Cancer Care unit will open planed, funded and delivered on an All-Ireland basis. It will significantly improve cancer care in the northwest and negating the need of patients on both side of the border to travel to Dublin and Belfast. Paediatric Cardiac Care will now be delivered from Dublin on and All-Ireland basis negating the need for many children to have to travel abroad for treatment. A new emergency Cardiac Emergency unit will open in Derry and serve a catchment area on both side of the border that has 350,000 people.
“These examples scratch the surfaces. In fact, potential progress in many sectors is grinding to a halt due to costly government disinterest. We need to examine how we can make best use of our assets on both sides of the border to benefit all the people of this land.”