There are over a million people in Ireland living along the Border who like me face day to day challenges of border life.
In a region with the worst levels of employment, the worst housing and the worst transport infrastructure Co-operation is not new to us we have assisted each other neighbour to neighbour since Ireland was partitioned
We know co-operation works, but it is not enough, we need a new economy in a New Ireland
I challenge those who oppose all-Ireland integration and harmonisation to explain the logic of their position?
Can they explain how it is cost effective to continue with two competing economies?
Back to back provision of Health care, Education, transport, agriculture, inward investment and every aspect of governance across this island?
Can they explain being unable to access the closest service provider because of an invisible frontier?
Can they explain why children cannot automatically access their nearest school, or why seriously ill patients regularly have to make exhaustively long journeys to access specialist treatment or why citizens cannot attend their nearest GP or hospital?
Why women experiencing domestic violence cannot access their nearest service because it is a different jurisdiction
There is no logical rhyme or reason for any of this!
Where joint enterprise is applied, such as in Health, not only does it provide a higher standard of care but it produces better economic outcomes also.
It improves the economic and physical well-being of our citizens.
The new jointly funded cancer centre in Derry demonstrates that progressive thinking can deliver public services across Ireland effectively and efficiently.
The border counties have been left economically stranded as a result of partition and government economic policies.
It is crucial, for the economic and social welfare of the people of Ireland, that we become champions for the creation of a Border Development Zone as a means of fostering economic recovery in the border counties
Anything less is a disservice to those we claim to represent.