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EU Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, tells British Irish Parliamentary Assembly that transparency must be central to the Brexit process

Added 17-Jul-2017

In her keynote address to the 54th BIPA Plenary in Kilkenny today, Emily O'Reilly, European Ombudsman, spoke of her office’s perspective on Brexit and the EU. She discussed the importance of the work of the Assembly, on a day when the second round of the Brexit negotiations began in Brussels. As the watchdog of the EU institutions, agencies and bodies, the Ombudsman highlighted the work her office is undertaking in order to allow people to see - as much as possible - who is attempting to influence the EU-UK negotiations and how the negotiations are being conducted.

John Paul Phelan TD, Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government opened proceedings with an update on Brexit and British-Irish relations. In his remarks, the Minister of State highlighted emphasised the government’s commitment to seeking to minimise the negative effects of Brexit for Ireland, for Irish-UK relations, and for the EU of which Ireland will continue to be a committed member. He assured BIPA that in the negotiating directives, Ireland’s interests are fully reflected, including a commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and working to avoid a hard border in Ireland.

The British Ambassador, H.E. Robin Barnett, gave an update on the British position and spoke of the importance of parliamentary links and forums like BIPA. In their engagement with the Ambassador, BIPA Members spoke of the need to do more to encourage parliamentarians across our islands to increase their own awareness and appreciation of the nuanced issues around Northern Ireland and British-Irish relations.

Irish Co-Chair Kathleen Funchion TD said, “Ongoing engagement in strengthening relationships across these islands is and will continue to be more important than ever as the UK prepares to leave the EU.”

“BIPA has a vital role to play in fostering good relations between our neighbours and BIPA Members today highlighted the need to invest in our meetings in order to maintain good relations in the midst of tough negotiations. Our sessions with youth groups were invaluable in highlighting the issues that are important to them and how we can foster more youth involvement in politics at all levels.”

British Co-Chair, Andrew Rosindell MP, said, “Today we have heard perspectives of the difficulties and opportunities that may lie ahead as Britain seeks a new future outside the European Union. If we are to maintain the excellent relations that have been built between the UK and Ireland, it is vital that potential issues are recognised as early as possible.”

“BIPA is a crucial conduit for strengthening the relationship between our two countries and I am pleased that, irrespective of individual member’s views on Brexit, there was a determination to explore ways of securing a prosperous future for the UK, Ireland and our members in the devolved nations and crown dependencies.”

“I would especially like to thank the National Youth Council of Ireland for their perspectives. They have given us much to think about as we seek to engage young people in the political process. “


Notes to eds:

The 54th Plenary of the British Irish Assembly takes place at the Newpark Hotel in Kilkenny on Monday 17 and Tuesday 18 July.

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About the Assembly

The Assembly's mission is to promote co-operation between political representatives in Britain and Ireland for the benefit of the people they represent. BIPA’s membership includes representatives from the UK Parliament, the Houses of the Oireachtas, the Scottish Parliament, the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Welsh Assembly, the High Court of Tynwald (Isle of Man) and the States of Guernsey and Jersey.

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