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Focus must remain on building economic relationship between Britain and Ireland

Added 22-Oct-2012

Speaking at the 45th plenary of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly in Glasgow, the Co-Chairmen of the Assembly, Laurence Robertson MP and Joe McHugh TD said that the discussions that took place today on Scottish efforts to boost trade and tourism provided much food for thought for members of the other parliaments and assemblies in attendance.

The Co-Chairmen said that while they welcomed the contributions of both trade union leaders and senior business representatives on developments regarding the Scottish economy, today's session was dominated by the current debate on the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence.

The Co-Chairmen added that the inputs made by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Cabinet Minister, Theresa Villiers MP, who told members that the UK Government had given the Scottish Parliament what it wanted through a simple ‘in or out' referendum, and the Chair of the Commission on the consequences of Devolution for the House of Commons, Sir William McKay, who outlined his work, were particularly relevant.

The Co-Chairs said that while the referendum debate would dominate public discourse in Scotland for the next two years, it was important that the Assembly maintained its focus on building economic links and policies between Britain and Ireland to aid recovery and boost employment and trade.

The British Co-Chair, Laurence Robertson MP commented, "The range of speakers at today's plenary meeting meant that topics as diverse as tourism, trade, and social issues were debated over the course of the day. However, clearly the overriding issue of the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence dominated our plenary.

"Clearly this issue will dominate debate in Scotland over the coming years but it is important not to lose sight of other issues such as economic development in both Britain and Ireland. It was important therefore to hear the perspective of the Scottish Trade Unions Congress today, and I look forward to the business community's contribution through the Scottish CBI tomorrow."

Deputy Joe McHugh added, "I was able to confirm to the members of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly at our meeting in Glasgow today that the next plenary will take place in Donegal from 3rd-5th March 2013.

"The theme of the plenary in Donegal will be focussed on the development of an energy strategy for Britain and Ireland. While previously the Assembly focussed on issues regarding the peace process, now members are actively engaged in working together to build economic links between our two islands.

"The UK accounts for 42% of total Irish exports, and Ireland is the fifth largest market for British businesses. It is vital that during the Donegal plenary we continue to identify ways to develop this trading relationship."


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