Governments must maintain focus on North-South co-operation

Retiring head of cross-Border body warns of potential return to tribal trenches

Retiring head of the Centre for Cross-Border Studies Andy Pollak has called for an increased focus on practical North-South co-operation.

Retiring head of the Centre for Cross-Border Studies Andy Pollak has called for an increased focus on practical North-South co-operation.

Fri, Jun 28, 2013, 15:28


Andy Pollak, who is standing down as head of the Centre for Cross-Border Studies in Armagh, has warned that the British and Irish governments are losing interest in North-South matters, while the media is also indifferent.

He said that if the two governments did not maintain the importance of North-South co-operation, the DUP and Sinn Féin could retreat to “tribal silos”.

Mr Pollak, who turned 65 in May and is retiring next month as director of the North-South research, training and information institution, attended a farewell reception for him in Dundalk yesterday evening. Among the large attendance were Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn, Martin Mansergh and Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach and Secretary to the Government Martin Fraser.

Mr Pollak called for an increased focus on practical North-South co-operation in areas such as health, higher education, research, energy, water and tourism.

He was trenchant in his criticism in his final blog from the centre. He said it was “worrying” that North-South matters were so low on the agenda of the two governments, although that must delight the “less pragmatic wing of unionism”.

Mr Pollak added, “Without the active interest and involvement of both the British and Irish governments, the two main parties in Northern Ireland will go back into the tribal silos where they feel most comfortable, the world will forget about this insignificant and awkward province, and in another generation the malign cycle of sectarianism and violence which has been the pattern here for the past 160 years and more will be in danger of raising its ugly head again.”