Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 27 June 2013
Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement
Cross-Border Co-operation in Education: Discussion
I warmly welcome the delegates, particularly Professor Linda Clarke of the University of Ulster. They all are welcome to Leinster House.
Deputy Crowe extends his apologies. He cannot attend today. The truth is that I asked him whether I could come in his place because this is a special day for me and for those in the area I represent. I am so proud to be here today. It is an important day. I am so proud of St. Angela's College, its work, staff and students.
Undoubtedly, with regard to North-South co-operation, there continues to be distrust between individuals and between communities, and, hopefully, we are working our way through that. It is less well recognised that there is institutional or organisational distrust. Perhaps it is more self-interest, with every institution and organisation jealously guarding its budget in these tight financial times. If we are to make a serious inroad in North-South co-operation, we need to be breaking through those walls of self-interest and distrust. What has been described today is exactly that. The winners from the memorandum of understanding presented to the committee today will be their students and those whom their students will teach.
I also hold the view that there are two borders in Ireland, not only the one between the Six Counties and the Twenty-six Counties. If one looks at an infrastructural map of the island of Ireland, there is an east-west border as well. This memorandum of understanding is redressing some of the imbalance towards the west coast as well. It is a wonderful example of co-operation. I am most familiar with St. Angela's College. Any committee member who has not been to St. Angela's should visit it. It sits on the shores of Lough Gill and one will not see a more wonderful location for a college anywhere in Ireland or in any other country.