Dublin Belfast Economic Corridor launched

Eight local authorities from either side of the border came together today to launch the Dublin Belfast Economic Corridor in response to challenges facing the region, which have been identified by a joint report from Dublin City University and Ulster University.

The report, The Dublin-Belfast Economic Corridor: Current Profile, Potential for Recovery & Opportunities for Cooperation, states that this is an opportune time to create a north-south Economic Corridor given the challenges the region faces as it comes to terms with the impact of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union and the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was authored by Prof. Deiric Ó Broin from DCU and Dr Eoin Magennis from UU.

The eight local authorities are:

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council

Belfast City Council

Dublin City Council

Fingal County Council

Lisburn Castlereagh City Council

Louth County Council

Meath County Council

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council

Opportunities exist to grow indigenous business, establish clusters of key sectors, leverage the appetite for collaboration and use the Corridor as the driving force for economic development in the region and nationally.

In 2018, the eight Councils located along the Corridor and the two Universities came together to work collectively to find ways of realising the potential benefits of further development of the Corridor. This led to the establishment of a Partnership Steering Group made up of the eight Council Chief Executives and the Presidents of the two universities who committed to meeting quarterly. 

The Steering Group’s immediate objective is to leverage the network’s resources in areas which can have a positive impact and add significant value to the economic development of the region at a time of great economic and social uncertainty. 

A working group of local government and university staff was subsequently formed and tasked with developing a series of cooperative initiatives and projects to begin to realise this objective. The report published today is the first output of their collective work over the past three years.


Following today’s launch and the publication of the Report, the next step will be to establish working governance structures which will balance oversight and day to day activity. Oversight will be provided by an Oversight and Governance Board. This will comprise of 24 councillors, three from each Council, and they will shortly hold their first meeting to elect a Chair and develop a programme of works.

There is awareness among all those involved in the Dublin Belfast Economic Corridor Project that developing a strong ethos of co-operation will require time, energy and support. Objectives will be set for achievement in the medium to long-term and based on a realisation that local actions can deliver strategic objectives in a practical way.

The region has a population in excess of 2million people and is younger and more diverse than any other part of Ireland with 15% born off the island. It also has the best educated workforce with 34% of the population holding Third Level qualifications thereby creating an excellent pipeline for concentrations of jobs requiring graduates.

In 2019, there were 125,000 firms located along the Corridor with entrepreneurship and survival rates higher than elsewhere in Ireland and more people employed in mid-sized and large businesses than anywhere else. 

Key sectors along the Corridor include Advanced Manufacturing, ICT, Agri-Food, Professional Services, Financial Services, Constructions and Tourism while among the challenges facing the region in the coming years are adapting to Brexit, Climate Change and transformation to a low carbon economy, low population density and an ageing population.

Three Government ministers, from either side of the border, attended today’s launch, which was held online and featured an audience drawn from the political, business and education spheres in both jurisdictions.

Northern Ireland’s Minister for Finance, Conor Murphy MLA, was joined by Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD; and Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD. Also in attendance were the eight leaders of each Council, councillors from across the region and the eight Council Chief Executives as well as members of their senior management teams. 


About the researchers

Deiric Ó Broin is Professor of Public Policy Practice in the School of Law and Government in DCU where he lectures in Irish politics and public policy. His research is focused on the area of local and urban governance. He also works in the areas of public participation and deliberation, civil society involvement in public policy formulation, with a particular focus on the social economy.

Dr Eoin Magennis is Senior Economist (Economic Research) in Ulster University’s Economic Policy Centre. Eoin's research interests include economic policy research in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, regional and sub-regional economic development, the dynamics of trade and its firm-level drivers and impacts, economic history and the history of economic thought.

For more information on the Dublin Belfast Economic Corridor, click here.