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Historic cross-border meeting to strengthen working relations

Strengthening North Wales’ links with Ireland and North West England is vitally important to take advantage of new opportunities, First Minister Mark Drakeford will say today (Thursday 18 May).

He will welcome the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, the Mayor of the Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram and Consul General of Ireland Denise McQuade for an historic meeting with Welsh Government Ministers and Local Authority leaders in North Wales.

The visitors will have a chance to see the innovative work taking place at the advanced manufacturing facility, AMRC Cymru in Broughton, and to tour the Port of Mostyn to understand more about potential opportunities at the site and along the North Wales coast on Thursday (18 May).

North Wales has a long and proud history with Ireland and the North West of England with strong economic and cultural links.

The Welsh Government is a founder member of the Mersey Dee Alliance, which ensures cross-border co-operation to benefit both regions. The Alliance has yielded numerous successes over the years but work between partners on both sides of the border was crucial during the pandemic.

The landmark Ireland-Wales Shared Statement and Joint Action Plan was signed in 2021. It sets out how Wales and Ireland will work together on areas as diverse as culture and language, the economy and renewable energy, including at a regional level.

The two Governments have previously discussed renewable energy opportunities at a Ministerial Forum held in Cork last year, which the First Minister and North Wales Minister, Lesley Griffiths attended.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “North Wales’ links with Ireland and the North West of England are strong, close and deep.

“We have great potential to re-affirm and continue to build on these existing relationships – together we can work on the big challenges we all face and seize new opportunities as we develop a low carbon future, creating new jobs and growing the economy.

“Today is a great chance to bring everyone together, including local authority leaders across North Wales, to discuss how we can work together for people across North Wales, Ireland and North West England.”

North Wales Minister, Lesley Griffiths said: “We have a proud history of working with our neighbours in Ireland and North West England and it is great to welcome the Mayors and Consul General to North Wales to discuss further potential opportunities going forward.

“It is important we build on our collaborative relations to capitalise on our strengths in areas such as renewable energy along our coasts, sharing best practice on culture and language, public transport and port logistics.

“Transformational projects, like those being taken forward with Ambition North Wales through the North Wales Growth Deal, which is worth £1.1bn, will also be key in turbo-charging growth and investment in this confident and outward-looking region.”

Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram said: “Our area is fortunate to have an incredibly close bond with our friends in Wales that dates back hundreds of years. It’s a relationship that we treasure to this day and is particularly special – not only because we’re neighbours – but because of the common values and cultures that we share.

“In the Liverpool City Region, we’re already a hotbed for investment with world-class clusters on our doorstep – but I want to go even further by establishing ourselves at the forefront of UK science and innovation. We have all the capabilities, natural assets – and the political will – to stake our claim as Britain’s Renewable Energy Coast and take advantage of the many thousands of jobs and training opportunities it will bring to our area. Working together, I want our two regions to take advantage of our shared strengths and unique assets to build a stronger future for our areas and our people.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham said: “Greater Manchester, and the rest of the North West, has really strong links with North Wales both in terms of our economy as well as the large number of people who work, live or study in our region.

“I’m really pleased to be here today so we can form closer relationships moving forward which will help strengthen an already growing northern economy and allow us to share best practice on key issues such as public transport and the environment.

“There has never been a more exciting time for devolution in England. Greater Manchester’s new Trailblazing Devolution Deal from Government allows our city-region to go further and faster than ever before, giving us more ability to make real improvements to the lives of people who live and work here and to see us build on our economic success story.

“It’s great to be able to share, with colleagues here in Wales, more about our journey in Greater Manchester, for example the delivery of the BeeNetwork – our integrated London-style public transport network – and the plans I announced yesterday to bolster technical skills in our region with a clear pathway to support young people wanting to pursue technical careers rather than going down the university route.”

Consul General of Ireland, Denise McQuade said: “The links between Ireland, Wales and the North West of England are strong and enduring. Through the Ireland-Wales Shared Statement and Joint Action Plan, Ireland is committed to working together to support green growth and sustainable economic development on both sides of the Irish Sea.

“The opening of Ireland’s Consulate General for the North of England in Manchester in 2021 and of an Enterprise Ireland office in the same city in 2019 further exemplify our commitment to cooperation across the wider region.

“I am delighted to visit North Wales to discuss our cooperation and see for myself some of the exciting and ambitious projects taking place.”