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 provides 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 inaugural plenary session was held in the Seanad Chamber, Leinster House on 12 October 2012, after which a Joint Communiqué was issued. Further plenary sessions were held on 26 April 2013 in Belfast, 8 November 2013 in Dublin, and again in Stormont on 4 April 2014. The fifth plenary of the Association is scheduled to take place in Leinster House on Friday, 3 October 2014.
The membership is drawn in equal numbers from the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Houses of the Oireachtas comprises 48 members plus two Joint Chairs. The current Joint Chairs are the Ceann Comhairle, Seán Barrett, TD and the Speaker, William Hay, MLA.