The establishment of a North/South parliamentary forum was envisaged in the Good Friday Agreement (1998) and the St Andrew’s Agreement (2006). Discussions on the establishment of such a forum were on-going since 2008 between working groups established for that purpose in the Houses of the Oireachtas and the Northern Ireland Assembly. Agreement was reached by the working groups of both institutions at a meeting in Stormont on 4 July 2012 on the establishment of a forum to be known as the North/South Inter-Parliamentary Association.
The Association will provide a forum for regular formal discussions between Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Members of both Houses of the Oireachtas on issues of mutual interest and concern. It meets twice yearly on a rotational basis between the Houses of the Oireachtas and the Northern Ireland Assembly with the agenda being agreed by an Executive Committee of the Association.
The membership is drawn in equal numbers from the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Houses of the Oireachtas and will comprise 48 members plus two Joint Chairs. The current Joint Chairs are the Ceann Comhairle, Seán Barrett, TD and the Speaker, William Hay, MLA.