Stormont stalemate top of agenda as British and Irish politicians gather in Kildare

Stormont stalemate top of agenda as British and Irish politicians gather in Kildare

MEMBERS of the British and Irish Governments will discuss how to return power-sharing to Northern Ireland as they meet in Kildare this week.

MPs and TDs are at the K Club Hotel for the 65th plenary of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly (BIPA).

The two-day event, which began yesterday, was opened by Ireland’s Minster for Finance Michael McGrath and British Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Steve Baker.

Steve Baker MP speaking at the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly in the K Club Hotel in Kildare

Both addressed the assembly, which also included British Ambassador to Ireland, Paul Johnson.

The Irish BIPA Co-Chair Brendan Smith said the meeting was “timely” given the ongoing political stalemate in the North.

“This is a timely opportunity to engage with colleagues from a number of legislatures and this plenary meeting will have a particular focus on the challenges and opportunities facing us all in the new energy landscape,” he said.

“While we reflect on the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, almost 18 months on from the last Northern Ireland Assembly election, power sharing has not been restored. We welcome the opportunity to speak on how best we can support a return of the Assembly and the Executive,” he added.

“This is an important forum where we can build relations and engage with each other on a range of issues at a time of heightened international tensions.”

Ireland's Minister for Finance Michael McGrath speaking at the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly

Lawmakers from Ireland and Britain, and the Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories, gather twice a year to discuss matters of mutual interest at the BIPA.

Previous plenary meetings took place in Jersey and Belfast earlier this year.

British BIPA Co-Chair Karin Smyth said this week’s forum provided a prime opportunity to address issues in the North as well as global environmental challenges.

“It’s a great privilege to be leading the British delegation to BIPA’s Kildare plenary in a year when we have thought hard about our bilateral relations to mark 25 years of the Belfast/good Friday Agreement,” the MP said.

“The enduring spirit of understanding and cooperation that this organisation stands for is essential to resolve the most prescient issues of our day, including efforts towards Stormont’s restoration.”

Fianna Fail TD Brendan Smith speaking at the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly

She added: “Decarbonisation is one of the greatest challenges of our age and in all our interests.

“Achieving it will require unprecedented joint international efforts. Where better to make the most of such efforts than with our friends from across the isles where cooperation can have the greatest impact?”