Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Ceisteanna (57, 59)

Robert Dowds

Ceist:

57. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide a report on his visit to Northern Ireland on 30 April 2013. [21702/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

59. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on his recent meetings with the Northern Ireland Secretary of State and members of the Northern Ireland Executive; the issues discussed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21871/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 57 and 59 together.

I travelled to Belfast on the 29th April 2013 as part of my ongoing series of contacts with Secretary of State Villiers and the First Minister and Deputy First Minister. The Secretary of State and I co-hosted an event to mark the 15th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement in the Metropolitan Arts Centre in Belfast. The event featured some sixty 15 year olds and representatives of civil society and was interactive in nature with lively and interesting questions from the young audience. The event underlined the progress achieved in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday Agreement and the continuing challenges ahead to achieve a reconciled, prosperous and shared society in Northern Ireland.

In a separate meeting with Secretary of State Villiers we discussed the British Government’s recent initiative involving economic support for Northern Ireland, the challenges ahead in delivering a reconciled, prosperous and shared society in Northern Ireland and the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement that have yet to be implemented. We discussed the EU PEACE IV programme and the continuing role of the International Fund for Ireland. We also discussed prisoner issues and the security situation in the light of the upcoming parading season.

The Secretary of State and I also met the First and Deputy Minister. We discussed community relations, economic matters including corporation tax issues, EU budget discussions, the opportunities for Ireland North and South of EU trade talks with the United States and Canada, the EU PEACE programme, the forthcoming parades season, and the Narrow Water Bridge project.

I also had a meeting on North South Institutional matters with the First Minister and deputy First Minister. We discussed issues concerning youth employment, the North West Gateway Initiative, economic and EU matters and the St. Andrew’s Agreement Review.

As I noted previously, these meetings were part of an ongoing schedule of close contact with the Secretary of State, and with the First Minister and deputy First Minister, which I fully intend to continue.