A renewed effort to build consensus on the island of Ireland around a shared future will come before Cabinet today in the form of what is being called a "comprehensive research project", which will "inform future Government strategy". 

The National Economic and Social Council - an independent body made up of employers, trade unions, and farmers as well as the community and voluntary sector - has been charged by the Government with helping to plan for greater economic social and environmental cooperation.

It is understood the new research will aim to build consensus on both a North-South axis between Northern Ireland and the Republic, as well as an East-West axis between Ireland and Britain.

The aim is to explore issues such as the all-island economy, job creation, regional development, social enterprise, as well as tackling problems to do with poverty and mental health.

Other areas of possible co-operation include climate action; biodiversity; renewable energy; and ensuring a so-called "just transition" for farming communities.

Under the plan, such work will be underpinned by the Good Friday Agreement and the absolute respect for the principle of consent.

NESC has been charged with producing a report for Government later this year.

Its latest report, 'Shared Island: Projects, Progress and Policy', will be considered by ministers at their meeting today.

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