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As Assembly meets in Brighton, Co-Chairs call for focus on the future

Added 23-Oct-2011

Speaking in advance of the opening of the 43rd plenary of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly (Monday-Tuesday 24-25 October) in Brighton, the Assembly Co-Chairs, Lord Cope of Berkeley and Joe McHugh TD, said that this plenary will consider the current issues that confront us in terms of banking and the economy.

The Co-Chairs said that the plenary will also consider issues of justice and human rights during the course of the two days.

Lord Cope commented, "Over the next two days the Assembly will consider the worrying economic situation that confronts us, and we look forward to the view from the banking sector that will be provided by the British Bankers Association.

"We are also delighted to hear from the Justice Minister in the Northern Ireland Executive, David Ford MLA, about the overall law and order situation since he assumed office last year. That appointment marked the devolution of justice and policing powers to the Executive and Assembly, and we look forward to hearing about the impact progress of this important development."

On the conference venue, Lord Cope added, "The Grand Hotel was chosen for practical not symbolic reasons. We all visit places and meet people affected by the Troubles and cannot forget those events or their victims. However, I am confident that the positive work of institutions such as this Assembly helps ensure that such tragedies do not occur in future."

Deputy Joe McHugh added, "Following our extremely successful plenary in Cork in June, I look forward to further developing the Assembly's work in key areas where we can co-operate together. As a representative for a border constituency I am fully aware of the need for greater co-operation and the sharing of public services, especially in the areas of health and transport. In doing so we can cut down on unnecessary bureaucracy and red-tape that automatically exists by having duplicate services side-by-side.

"Furthermore, given the focus on the economy we must also identify opportunities for business development given the unique trading relationship that exists between our two countries. The UK accounts for 42% of total Irish exports, and Ireland is the fifth largest market for British businesses.

"I look forward to exploring what opportunities exist for further developing this area over the coming days."

The provisional agenda for the plenary is:

Monday 24 October

0900 Opening remarks from the Co-Chairmen

1000 Bill of Rights Commission - Martin Howe QC

1100 Northern Ireland Office - Lord Shutt

1600 The economy: the view from the banks - Sally Scutt, British Bankers Association

Tuesday 25 October

1000 Law and order in Northern Ireland - David Ford MLA, Justice Minister


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