Marshall plan urged for Ulster peace

June 27, 1997

Sir Trevor Smith, vice chancellor of Ulster University, has called for a "Marshall Plan" for the north of Ireland, with tertiary education playing a key role in regeneration.

Sir Trevor, speaking as chairman of the Conference of Rectors of Ireland to the CRI's Dublin conference on "Partnership for progress", said such a plan "would provide the crucial but missing element to the peace process".

He argued that on the eve of the marching season in Northern Ireland, "the particular political circumstances that have blighted the north of the island and the border counties for the past years call out for a further major initiative".

The governments of the United Kingdom, Ireland and the United States, along with the European Union, should sponsor a new Marshall Plan, echoing American support 50 years ago for the regeneration of war-torn Europe. But their support should be conditional on a ceasefire, Sir Trevor said.

Higher and further education would be an integral part of the regeneration of local communities in Northern Ireland's six counties, and the six counties south of the border, he said.

Ulster and Queen's University Belfast were effectively the research and development facility for industry in the province. Their Pounds 55-million research spending equalled the funds generated by Northern Ireland companies, and the quality of their work helped attract companies to the province.

"There is also a growing recognition of the need for universities to collaborate more with one another and with companies on both sides of the border," he said.

The Northern Ireland Technology Foresight exercise had provided blueprints for further economic development that would be closely associated with work in the further education colleges.

"If the Marshall Plan could be applied so successfully 50 years ago to the whole of western Europe, there is surely every possibility that a similar exercise could be applied to Northern Ireland and the Border Counties," he said.

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