Strand Two of the Good Friday Agreement provided for the establishment of the North/South Ministerial Council and the North/South Implementation Bodies. It also provided that consideration be given to a North/South Consultative Forum and a North/South parliamentary forum.With the establishment in 2012 of the North/South Inter-Parliamentary Association, which is in effect the North/South parliamentary forum envisaged in the Good Friday Agreement, the only institution that remains outstanding is the North/South Consultative Forum.
The Government continues to support the establishment of the Consultative Forum, including by raising the issue at North/South Ministerial Council Plenary meetings and will do so again at the Plenary meeting on 4 July.
The forthcoming Plenary meeting of the Council offers an opportunity for substantive discussions with our Northern Ireland colleagues on the progress made since the last Plenary in November 2013 across the various sectors and by the Implementation Bodies. We will also discuss shared interests such as economic growth, addressing unemployment, regional development, increasing trade and business activity and EU matters including the proposed new PEACE and INTERREG programmes. I also hope that we will be able to review the progress made on identifying and developing priorities for new and further North/South co-operation.