The full title for the 2014 workshop was "Sustainable Economic Development in The Local Area, The Cooley Peninsula: An Alternative to Austerity?"

The Facilitator and Chair for the workshop was Mr. Dermot Mooney, outgoing chairperson of Cooley Environmental and Health Group. Archbishop Michael Desmond Hynes OMD PhD, Seán Crudden and Dennis Pringle lent assistance. Others in attendance were: Michael Corrigan, Michael Farrelly, Kevin Hynes, Eric Hynes, Edward S. Crudden, Mrs. Anne Muldowney, Councillor Eamonn O'Boyle, FG, outgoing chairperson of Dundalk Town Council, and Mrs. Christina O'Boyle.

Seán Crudden opened the workshop offering sympathy to the family and friends of Nuala McAnoy and Barry Shaughnessy recently deceased. He pointed out that the day of the workshop was the exact anniversary of the murder of Detective Adrian O'Donoghoe. He also presented apologies from Joan Hardy, Suzanne Carroll, Glenda Byrne, Brendan Rafferty, Seán O'Connor.

Professor Dennis Pringle outlined in detail what is meant by "Austerity", "Sustainable", and "Development." He pointed out that we were not necessarily talking about something instead of what we have now but rather something in addition to what is already there. He pointed out that a local business was locally rooted but did not need to be confined to local customers.

The workshop heard that competition from the EU and further afield means we have to be very cost effective as people can purchase goods over the internet and from remote parts of the globe. However, the internet also provides opportunities to sell to a global market: it only requires sales to a minute percentage of the global market to be cost effective.

The workshop separated into 3 groups in which all participants were asked to cast about for ideas. A wide variety of ideas were reported at the feedback session:

  • Reputation of Carlingford as a gourmet centre.
  • Need for a railway track at Greenore. The potential development of Greenore port.
  • Warehousing around Greenore.
  • Water sports.
  • Sea-angling.
  • The development of a visitors' centre like Bushmills at Cooley Distillery.
  • Links with surrounding areas like Mourne and The Silent Valley to attract day-tourists.
  • Cycling.
  • Hill walking.
  • More attractive rates for micro-generated electricity.
  • A School of Speech and Drama.
  • Music, Dancing, Fleadh.
  • A ferry between Omeath and Warrenpoint.
  • Genealogical tourism (The Vice-President of the United States of America has relatives who are natives of Cooley).
  • Greenway.
  • Better broadband.
  • Unify the whole peninsula as one.
  • One stop shop for small businesses.
  • Cruising on Carlingford Lough and Dundalk Bay.
  • Upgrade commercial fishing.
  • Cooley Potatoes.

In general session the workshop considered issues such as innovation, incubation, enterprise and educational initiatives to grow our own entrepreneurs. It was felt that there is need for greater leadership from above as to how a coordinated system of inter-dependencies can be put in place that will help facilitate the administration for small business development as the present system is geared more for larger companies. Multinational Companies are about profit maximization whereas the indigenous company may be more interested in simply keeping its head above water to stay in business.

Cllr Eamonn O’Boyle summed up the workshop well and reiterated the need for leadership. This theme may be explored at our next workshop in 2015.

The AGM: was brief and to the point with officers elected as follows:

   Mr Paul Smyth: Chairperson
   Mr Dermot Mooney: Vice-Chairperson
   Archbishop Michael Desmond Hynes: Secretary/PRO

   Signor Seán Crudden: Treasurer

Prof Dennis Pringle was re confirmed as mentor and academic advisor

The workshop commenced at 14:15 with a break for tea at 15:30. Seán Crudden took a few photographs of participants. A selection of these can be seen on the Cooley Environmental & Health Group page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/CooleyEnvironmentalHealthGroupCehg).

Nine of those attending stayed on to enjoy a satisfying communal meal prepared by the Strand Hotel.

M.D. Hynes, Secretary/PRO
Seán Crudden, Treasurer