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Parliamentarians consider how to secure the gains from Good Friday Agreement

Added 22-Oct-2013

BIPA Members at 47th Plenary Session in London

Photo Credit: Roger Harris

Securing peace and prosperity for Northern Ireland and the role of Britain and Ireland in shaping an evolving European Union were among the themes discussed at the 47th Plenary Session of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly (BIPA).

Opening the plenary meeting, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers MP, said in an upbeat address that economic prosperity and social cohesion in Northern Ireland were ‘totally interlinked’. Judith Gillespie, Deputy Chief Constable of the PSNI told the Assembly that, while Northern Ireland had one of the lowest crime rates in the UK, the police in some ways were acting as a ‘shock absorber’ in bearing the brunt of the frustrations being experienced in many communities. She expressed the hope that politicians would be able to lead their respective communities in a manner that will secure lasting peace. 

The meeting saw the presentation of a number of key reports by BIPA Committees, including topics such as human trafficking, renewable energy and the Irish Presidency of the European Union. 

Welcoming the outcomes from a successful two days, co-Chair of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly Laurence Robertson MP said: “This 47th plenary session was a timely opportunity to reflect on the tremendous progress that has been made in the 15 years since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Powerful and optimistic addresses by Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers MP and Judith Gillespie, Deputy Chief Constable of the PSNI, focussed on how Northern Ireland has been transformed and outlined some of the challenges facing its communities. As parliamentarians, we will be keen to build on the practical cooperation on economic and security matters between the UK and Ireland to assist in securing peace and prosperity for the people of Northern Ireland.” 

Co-Chair Joe McHugh TD added: “The Assembly gained from the input of Irish EU Affairs Minister Paschal Donohoe TD, who delivered an impassioned contribution which emphasised the uniqueness of the Ireland–UK–EU relationship and argued that the EU is stronger with the UK as a full and committed member. Minister Donohoe’s speech followed the presentation of a Committee report which broadly commended the effort of the Irish Government which helped to secure major agreements in high-profile areas such as on the EU’s long term budget to 2020. 

“The Assembly returns to Dublin in March 2014, where it will consider the theme ‘the Future of Work’. This is an exciting and timely meeting, in which parliamentarians from across these islands will consider how to best equip our young people for the jobs of the future.” 

The Assembly also agreed to further examine the case for a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland, which was referred to the Committee on Sovereignty Matters. 

Committee Chair Frank Feighan TD says: “Our Committee, which is tasked with responsibility to explore sovereign matters, welcomes to opportunity to explore the issue of a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland. Senator George Mitchell, speaking in Leinster House last year, said that full implementation of an agreement is often more difficult and more important than reaching an agreement in the first instance .”


For further information please contact: 

London: Jessica Bridges Palmer, Select Committee Media Officer, Houses of Parliament, London, T:  +44 7917 488 489

Dublin: Paul Hand, Press Liaison Officer, Houses of the Oireachtas, Dublin, T:  +353 87 6949926

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