16/11/2010

COMET Cross-Border Projects Target Prosperity

Belfast and district is set for a fillip with news that the COMET (Councils of the Metropolitan Area) annual plan has been launched.

The document was unveiled in the City Hall and is to focus on a range of cross-border programmes under the themes of enterprise, collaboration and tourism.

The organisation is a partnership of six councils within the greater Belfast area which includes the city of Belfast, Lisburn, Carrickfergus, Castlereagh, Newtownabbey and North Down council areas and the new Multi-Annual Plan is a strategic document which sets out a range of cross border projects which will be delivered by the six councils in partnership with agencies from the border counties in the Republic of Ireland.

The COMET Interreg IVA programme is financed through the European Regional Development Fund with the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) being the body responsible for managing the Cross-Border European Territorial Co-operation Programme in Northern Ireland, the border region of Ireland and Western Scotland.

Councillor David Rodway, Chairman of the COMET Interreg Partnership Board, launched the plan at a special ceremony in the City Hall last week, attended by COMET representatives from councils in Dublin and the greater Belfast areas.
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He said: "COMET's participation in the Interreg IVA Programme ensures that all of Northern Ireland and the six border counties are engaging in Interreg funded cross border activity.

"In the current economic climate, it is critical to create economies of scale and to try to maximise external funding especially European funding for all our territories and to maximise impact by doing this in collaboration with each other.

"We cannot emphasise enough the importance of interregional, cross border and trannational working," he said.

Howard Keery, Director with the SEUPB, said: "COMET represents the most densely populated region in Northern Ireland and thus has the potential to impact in a high number of people.

"A suite of good quality projects from COMET, together with the development of innovative strategic partnerships, will contribute significantly to the promotion of a more prosperous and sustainable region which is a key priority of the EU's Interreg IVA Programme," he said.

Pictured at the launch, from left are: Councillor Darin Ferguson, Carrickfergus Borough Council, Alderman Jack Beattie, Castlereagh Borough Council, Alderman Nigel Hamilton, Newtownabbey Borough Council and Councillor David Rodway, Belfast City Council and Chair of the COMET Interreg Partnership Board.

(BMcC/GK)

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