A double-edged deal in Dublin

Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell issued a joint statement in Dublin yesterday, outlining plans for mutual co-operation.  Mr McConnell said the two governments would seek €200 million from the EU cross-border programme due to begin in 2007.

The meeting was partly aimed at convincing the Northern Ireland parties of the benefits of devolution. However, some observers saw another subtext:

Mr McConnell is happy to push things along, particularly if it requires his London colleagues to argue, through gritted teeth, that his Holyrood administration is delivering a "devolution dividend". But there is a catch.
If the game-plan is to persuade the Northern Irish that Scotland shows what can be done with devolution, getting too close to Dublin offers a reminder to Scots of what can be done with the powers of a small, independent state within Europe.
The Irish capital is humming with the country’s rapid growth. Here is living proof that the powers to cut corporation tax, as argued by the SNP, can have dramatic effects. (The Herald)



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