Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith has called for a greater emphasis on North-South cooperation in the area of Further Education.
The Cavan-Monaghan TD added the value of All-Ireland cooperation in the health and education sectors cannot be underestimated.
Substantial public funding has been committed to an all-island investment from 2021 to 2030 through the Share Island Initiative, Peace Plus and Project Ireland 2040.
“It was heartening recently to listen during the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement to representatives of the All-Island Cancer Research Institute, AICRI outlining how important shared island funding had been for them,” Deputy Smith said.
“Universities and hospitals on this island, North and South, are working together and with counterparts in Britain and America. Fabulous work and research is being done to try to cope with the terrible disease of cancer and the frightening prospect of how much more it will impact on the population.”
Deputy Smith called on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Dáil to prioritise Further Education.
“I would like emphasis to be placed on Further Education. There is scope to have our colleges of Further Education, North and South, working together, identifying courses that can be delivered in Enniskillen for students from the South and in Cavan and Monaghan for our neighbours in Northern Ireland,” he said.
“There could be a much greater sharing of resources in Further and Higher Education. Recently, I had the opportunity to meet the provost and her senior personnel at the University of Ulster. They were excited about the possibilities of more co-operation with their counterparts in this State through shared island funding.”
In response Mr Varadkar said he agreed with Deputy Smith that health has been one of the areas in which there has been “considerable progress” in North-South cooperation.
“It has been done in a low-key, effective way whether it is cardiac services in Altnagelvin, cancer, paediatric services, or cardiothoracic surgery in Crumlin hospital. It is a really good example of co-operation,” the Taoiseach said.
“We are a very small island and we can treat conditions as an island of 7 million people in a way we could not as jurisdictions of 5 million and 2 million people. I would love to see more co-operation in that regard. I agree with Deputy Brendan Smith’s comments on Higher Education, particularly with regard to co-operation in the north west.”