In the wake of the UK referendum on EU membership, Government Ministers have taken every opportunity to engage with the Article 50 Task Force, our EU partners and the UK to advance Ireland’s Brexit priorities.
As Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform I have responsibility for the three EU-funded cross-border programmes in which Ireland and the UK are partners, namely the PEACE Programme, the Ireland/Northern Ireland/Scotland INTERREG Programme, and the Ireland/Wales INTERREG Programme.
Ministerial discussions relating to the PEACE Programme and the INTERREG Programme with Northern Ireland and Scotland normally take place under the auspices of the North South Ministerial Council, in which context I had a number of meetings and discussions with the Northern Ireland Finance Minister, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir. The Council has not met for two years, however. Nevertheless, Minister Patrick O'Donovan and Minister Helen McEntee have each met the UK Minister with responsibility for Cohesion policy, Lord Henley, in the margins of the April and November meetings of the General Affairs Council devoted to Cohesion policy, where they took the opportunity to underscore the Irish Government's continuing commitment to the successful implementation of the current PEACE and INTERREG programmes and the proposed new PEACE PLUS programme.
In addition, I have met the Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Mark Drakeford, on two occasions since the referendum to discuss the Ireland/Wales INTERREG Programme.