Irish political leaders in London for British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference

Irish political leaders in London for British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference

THE ongoing issues around political instability in Britain and Ireland were top of the agenda when a meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIGC) took place this month.

The meeting, which took place at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in London on December 2, included a delegation of political representatives from Ireland.

Brandon Lewis, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland Minister Conor Burns, were joined by Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney and Ireland’s Minister for Justice Helen McEntee for the conference.

The regular event, which was established under Good Friday Agreement, is designed  “to promote bilateral co-operation at all levels on all matters of mutual interest within the competence of the UK and Irish Governments”.

This month’s meeting saw political stability between the two islands discussed, with a joint statement following the conference confirming: “The Conference emphasised its support for the ongoing functioning of the devolved administration in Northern Ireland and underlined the importance of all of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement institutions operating fully and effectively given their interdependent and interlocking nature, and the importance of respecting the Agreement in all of its strands.”

They added: “The New Decade, New Approach agreement, which restored the institutions in January 2020, remains central to political stability, and the UK and Irish Governments reaffirmed their shared determination to continue to deliver on their respective commitments.”

They also discussed “east-west matters” which included “the important role of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference in the development of the broader British-Irish relationship, with agreement on the deep value of strong bilateral cooperation at all levels between two close neighbours”.

They explained:  “The Conference noted, and expressed appreciation for, the strong levels of cooperation and partnership between our respective Consular teams in Dublin, London and across the world during 2021.”

The political leaders also acknowledged the ongoing importance of the Common Travel Area arrangements which allow free travel between Britian and Ireland.

They agreed on the “need for the Irish Government and the UK Government to continue to work together to uphold the reciprocal rights and privileges British and Irish citizens have long enjoyed”.

The UK and Irish government representatives also reaffirmed their commitment to the important guarantees of rights and the protections set out in the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement at the meeting.

The next meeting of the BIIGC will be in early 2022.