Establishment of the North/South Inter-Parliamentary Association

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 04 July 2012

Reference: SO 24/11/12

The Speaker, William Hay MLA and the Ceann Comhairle, Seán Barrett TD have announced the establishment of the North/South Inter-Parliamentary Association. For the past number of years and, in particular, since an initial all-party Conference in October 2010, work has been progressing on the establishment of a North/South Inter-Parliamentary Association through Working Groups in the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Houses of the Oireachtas. The Working Groups have been meeting to discuss issues of mutual interest to MLAs and TDs /Senators.

At a joint meeting of the Working Groups in Parliament Buildings today, it was agreed that the North/South Inter-Parliamentary Association be established. The Association will have 48 members, plus two Co-Chairs, with membership drawn in equal numbers from the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Houses of the Oireachtas.   It will meet twice annually on a rotational basis with the Agenda being agreed by an Executive Committee comprised of the two current Working Groups.  The Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, William Hay MLA, has been elected as the Assembly’s first Co-Chair of the Association by its representatives on the Executive Committee, and the Ceann Comhairle, Seán Barrett TD, has been elected as the first Co-Chair on behalf of the Oireachtas Members on the Association’s Executive Committee.

The Speaker, William Hay MLA welcomed the establishment of the Association: “I am pleased to join the Ceann Comhairle today in announcing the formation of the North South Inter-Parliamentary Association.  The Association, which has been agreed by all five main political parties in the Assembly, will provide a platform for the natural engagement between neighbouring legislatures and builds on the regular contact which already exists between Committees of each Institution. I welcome the fact that the Association’s work will be supported by the existing Secretariats of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Houses of the Oireachtas ensuring that it will involve minimal costs. The work to set up an Association has been on-going for a period of time and I would like to thank the Ceann Comhairle, Seán Barrett TD for the positive relationship we have had and the members of the Working Groups for the constructive efforts and discussions they have had to reach this point.”

The Ceann Comhairle, Seán Barrett TD, also welcomed the establishment of the Association: “Today marks a very significant day for the Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas and of the Northern Ireland Assembly.  It is a day on which representatives of all the main political parties North and South have agreed to establish a shared formal mechanism for regular and direct discussion and engagement with a view to finding ways, through North/South co-operation, of improving the lives of the people we represent.  The North/South Inter-Parliamentary Association will be parliamentarian-led and parliamentarian-focussed.   It will be about building relationships and sharing ideas among Assembly and Oireachtas Members to address issues of common interest and concern, as envisaged in the Good Friday/Belfast and St. Andrew’s Agreements.

“I want to commend William Hay MLA, Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, for his leadership and vision towards the establishment of the North/South

Inter-Parliamentary Association.  I am delighted that my offer, on behalf of the Houses of the Oireachtas, that the first Plenary Meeting of the North/South

Inter-Parliamentary Association take place in Dublin on 12 October 2012 has been accepted and agreed.” 

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