Unique Cross-Border Voice

A new and unique cross-border group is being established by Newry and Mourne District Council, Louth County Council and the PEACE III Southern Partnership’s Future Foundations priority. Up to fifty individuals from all walks of life from Newry and Mourne and from Dundalk and North County Louth are being invited to come together in a joint People’s Panel which is the first of its kind to be organised on a cross-border basis. It is supported by the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund through the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation (PEACE III) managed by the Special EU Programmes Body 

Explaining the concept, Regina Mackin, Assistant Director of Newry and Mourne District Council said “Council has previous experience of operating a successful People’s Panel and the move to establish a panel on a cross-border basis is a natural progression given the growing co-operation between the two districts. A People’s Panel comprises a number of individuals, in this case twenty five from each area, who are provided with training and information to enable them to act as sounding boards in their areas. Panels sometimes respond to queries from statutory bodies and sometimes suggest areas which they consider need to be debated. Whichever way a topic is selected the members of the panel debate it and put forward their ideas and comments which are fed to the relevant statutory body. The members of the panel are drawn from all walks of life so as to be as truly representative as possible of the area and we are particularly anxious to recruit people who can represent those who most often lack a voice in our society. We have appointed Frank Dolaghan of Mentor Economic Developments as the Panel facilitator and he will assist with recruitment and capacity building of panel members as well as facilitating meetings of the Panel. Anyone interested in applying for membership of the panel can contact Frank on 07740823713 or email frank.dolaghan@btconnect.com for full details.”


Paula Gribben is the RAPID Co-ordinator for Dundalk and welcomed the new Panel saying “While there are undoubted differences in the local government structures on both sides of the border there is ample evidence to show that both Newry and Mourne and Dundalk/North Louth face common challenges in areas such as addictions, rural transport, neighbourhood renewal, community development, housing, poverty, community safety, good relations and much more. We look forward to a very fruitful dialogue with the members of the Panel and encourage as many people as possible to apply for membership. Meetings will rotate between Newry and Dundalk and all members will be paid out of pocket expenses. We can also make provision for special supports such as translation and interpreting as we are most anxious not to preclude anyone from participating.”


Frank Dolaghan of Mentor said “We have worked extensively on a cross-border basis and confirm the view that both areas have lots in common but also have opportunities to share their experiences. We look forward to working with the Panel and are confident it will provide a very effective and worthwhile mechanism which can influence policy making and decision making at the level of local services.”