Written Answers. - British-Irish Interparliamentary Body.

Brendan Smith

Question:

46 Mr. B. Smith asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if the British-Irish Interparliamentary Body will be constituted as the East-West Parliamentary Tier as envisaged in the Good Friday Agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20592/98]

Since its inception, the British-Irish Interparliamentary Body has played a very constructive role in improving relations and understanding between parliamentarians on both sides of the Irish Sea.

The British-Irish Agreement proposes the establishment of a British-Irish Council to bring together the Irish and British Governments, the new devolved Administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and the Isle of Man and Channel Islands. The Agreement also encourages the elected institutions of the members of the British Irish Council "to develop interparliamentary links, perhaps building on the British-Irish Interparliamentary Body".

I would warmly welcome the establishment of such links, but this is a matter to be decided by the Oireachtas and the other parliamentary institutions concerned. I know that the Interparliamentary Body has already begun to consider this question, and I look forward with interest to the outcome of its deliberations.