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Good Friday Agreement

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 30 September 2021

Thursday, 30 September 2021

Questions (201, 202)

Neale Richmond

Question:

201. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will provide a schedule of the upcoming meetings provided for under the Good Friday Agreement. [37472/21]

View answer

Neale Richmond

Question:

202. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will provide an update on the latest meetings of the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement. [46324/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 201 and 202 together.

The New Decade, New Approach Agreement (NDNA) reached in January 2020 was a very significant shared achievement by the parties in Northern Ireland together with the British and Irish Governments, in restoring the power-sharing institutions of the Good Friday Agreement to operation.

As outlined in the Programme for Government, the full implementation of the NDNA is an important priority for the Government. As provided for in the agreement, the first Implementation Review meeting took place in January of this year, and a second is planned for the period immediately ahead, to review progress made to date.

The North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) is essential to overseeing and developing North South cooperation on matters of mutual interest, including the implementation of the NDNA Agreement. The important work of the NSMC to develop cooperation on an all-island basis resumed in 2020, and three successful NSMC plenary meetings have now taken place, as well as a number of Sectoral meetings at Ministerial level. Progress is underway with respect to these commitments that come under its remit – we look forward to this progress being continued and seeing these commitments implemented in full.

The 35th summit of the British-Irish Council (BIC), hosted by the Northern Ireland Executive, took place on 11 June. Former First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill welcomed all administrations to the summit, which included in person and virtual attendance. The Taoiseach, Tánaiste, and I attended in person and the UK side was represented in person by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, and Secretary for State for NI Brandon Lewis. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford attended virtually. The summit discussion consisted of firstly addressing recovery and planning for potential impacts following Covid-19, and secondly a discussion regarding latest political developments and ongoing work and future of the BIC. The Council noted that the next BIC Summit would be hosted by the Welsh Government.

I also attended the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIGC) on 24 June alongside my colleague, the Minister for Justice, Heather Humphreys, and with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, and the former Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office, Robin Walker. The Conference was established under Strand Three of the Good Friday Agreement “to promote bilateral co-operation at all levels on all matters of mutual interest within the competence of both Governments”.

The meeting allowed for discussion of a wide and positive agenda of East-West and economic and security cooperation. We were also able to discuss how we can, together, best support the stability of all institutions of the Good Friday Agreement. There were also important discussions around the need to make progress on addressing the legacy of the past. As agreed at the BIIGC, the Government has joined the British Government and the Northern Irish parties in a process of intensive engagement of these issues, with discussions beginning in July. The BIIGC is an important institution of the Good Friday Agreement. It was positive to see it take place for the first time since 2019, and we agreed that the Conference should meet again in November.

Question No. 202 answered with Question No. 201.
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