Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Ceisteanna (44)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

44. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on the contact he has had with the government of the United Kingdom regarding the Taoiseach's plans to institute annual joint meetings of the Irish and British cabinets. [18732/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Ireland maintains a strong and constructive bilateral relationship with the UK, and we remain fully committed to developing and enhancing this relationship over the coming years.

There are already in existence a number of channels for ongoing dialogue and co-operation between the Irish and British Governments, which will continue after the UK leaves the European Union. In this regard, the Good Friday Agreement provides for important institutional cooperation on an east-west basis through the British-Irish Inter-Governmental Conference (BIIGC) and the British Irish Council (BIC). In addition, the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly (BIPA) brings together elected representatives from the Oireachtas, Westminster, the Northern Ireland Assembly, and the Scottish and Welsh devolved assemblies. These structures have shown their value and will continue to evolve in response to the changing circumstances.

While post-Brexit we will no longer have the EU structures to bring us together, there is an onus on both countries to continue to develop and strengthen this bilateral relationship, an objective which may necessitate some form of structured engagement between the two Governments. We are therefore exploring other avenues to maintain the “habit of cooperation” that currently exists where Ministers regularly meet their counterparts and work together in Brussels.

While some discussions have taken place informally, we have not yet presented formal proposals in relation to what form this structured engagement should take.

It is worth noting that, since 2012, a number of bilateral meetings between the Taoiseach and the UK Prime Minister have taken place. In addition, a Joint Work Programme managed at official level by the heads of all government departments in both London and Dublin has been developed. This process has the potential to be expanded and built upon in order to encompass a more comprehensive approach to bilateral engagement.