Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Questions (40)

Micheál Martin

Question:

40. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the British-Irish Council; when it last met; and the issues that were discussed. [47906/19]

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Written answers (Question to Taoiseach)

I was delighted to welcome the Administration Heads from Scotland, Wales, Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey and the British Government to Dublin for the 33rd British Irish Council on the 15th November.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the inaugural meeting of the British-Irish Council and it was agreed that the Council remains a valued strand of the Good Friday Agreement.

The Summit provided an opportunity for Ministers to update the Council on their actions regarding Brexit and discuss the latest domestic political developments across their jurisdictions along with topics of mutual interest such as the economy, trade and ongoing relations with the EU.

The Council also discussed the political situation in Northern Ireland, and regretted that Northern Ireland will not be represented politically at this important forum until the Executive is restored.

Minister for Health, Simon Harris and Minister of State with responsibility for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne held a discussion on substance misuse with their counterparts from the other administrations.

The Ministers explored the links between health and social initiatives and community policing, and their long-term social and economic benefits to communities.

In advance of the Summit meeting (on Thursday evening), Health Ministers from the travelling delegations visited the North-East Inner-City Inclusion Health Hub, a project which focuses on the transformation of the delivery of health services for drug users in the city.

During the course of the Summit, I held bilaterals with the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales. I also took the opportunity to speak with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.