Strand II – North/South Co-operation
The Government is committed to promoting partnership on the island of Ireland through the North/South Ministerial Council and the other North/South institutions of the Good Friday Agreement, thus deepening economic, social and cultural relations between both parts of the island of Ireland
A particular focus of North/South co-operation is on measures to develop co-operation on the island economy, infrastructure and spatial planning, the border region and improved co-operation on cross-border public services such as health and education.
On 26 October 2006 Minister Ahern and Secretary of State Hain launched the Comprehensive Study on the All-Island Economy. This blueprint for all-island economic co-operation sets out the economic rationale for North/South collaboration, as well as concrete proposals for economic initiatives. To access the text of the Comprehensive Study on All-Island Economy, please click here (PDF 20kb)
All-Island Co-operation is a horizontal theme of the National Development Plan 2007-2013.
The All-Island Chapter of the Plan includes a comprehensive statement of Government policy on North/South co-operation. It sets out, for the first time, proposals for Irish Government investment in North/South projects and initiatives for mutual benefit.
The Good Friday Agreement (PDF 18kb) established the North/South Ministerial Council(NSMC) to develop consultation, co-operation and action within the island of Ireland - including through implementation on an all-island and cross-border basis - on matters of mutual interest within the competence of the Administrations, North and South.
From 24 January 2000 to 9 October 2002, 60 meetings of the Council took place in sectoral format. Five meetings took place in plenary format, including the inaugural meeting on 13 December 1999.
With restoration of the power-sharing institutions on 8 May 2007, the North/South Ministerial Council can once again meet and the North/South Implementation Bodies can function fully. The 5th Plenary of the NSMC took place on the 17 July in Armagh.
To take forward work on North/South Co-operation, the two Governments set up six North/South Implementation Bodies on 2 December 1999 These Bodies are:
- The Food Safety Promotion Board which works for the promotion of food safety, research into food safety, communication of food alerts, surveillance of food-borne disease, promotion of scientific co-operation and laboratory linkages, and the development of cost-effective facilities for specialised laboratory testing.
- InterTrade Ireland which promotes trade and business on an all-island and cross-border basis, and works to enhance the global competitiveness of the all-island economy to the mutual benefit of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
- The Language Body (An Foras Teanga/North-South Body o Leid) consists of two agencies - Foras na Gaeilge and Tha Boord o Ulster-Scotch. Foras na Gaeilge is responsible for the promotion of the Irish language throughout the island, and Tha Boord o Ulster-Scotch, whose aim is to promote the study, conservation, development and use of Ulster-Scots as a living language; to encourage and develop the full range of its attendant culture; and to promote an understanding of the history of the Ulster-Scots.
- The Special European Programmes Body, which is the Managing Authority for both the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation (Peace II) and INTERREG IIIA.
- Waterways Ireland, which has responsibility for the management, maintenance, development and restoration of inland navigable waterways principally for recreational purposes. The waterways under the remit of the body are the Barrow Navigation, the Erne System, the Grand Canal, the Lower Bann, the Royal, the Shannon-Erne Waterway and the Shannon Navigation.
- The Loughs Agency, which has responsibility for the promotion and development of Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough for commercial and recreational purposes in respect of marine, fishery and aquaculture matters.
- Tourism Ireland is a North/South Limited Company which markets the island of Ireland overseas as a tourism destination.
The Good Friday Agreement identified six other key areas for North/South Co-operation. These were:
- Agriculture - The aspects of Agriculture initially agreed for consideration by the NSMC were Common Agricultural Policy issues, Animal and Plant Health Policy and Research and Rural Development.
- Education - The NSMC agreed to discuss education for children with special needs, educational under-achievement, teacher qualifications and school, youth and teacher exchanges.
- Environment - The areas of Environment for consideration by the NSMC were research into environmental protection, pollution, water quality management and waste management in a cross-border context.
- Health - The aspects of Health discussed by the NSMC were accident and emergency planning, co-operation on high technology equipment, cancer research and health promotion.
- Transport - The NSMC agreed to discuss co-operation on strategic transport planning including road and rail infrastructure and public transport services and road and rail safety.
- Tourism - A limited company, Tourism Ireland, publicly-owned by Bord Fáilte Eireann and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board markets the island of Ireland overseas as a tourism destination. Its role is to provide strategic leadership in international marketing and in the delivery of world-class marketing programmes. The organisation also influences product quality and service delivery through the expression of feedback from consumers and trade in the overseas marketplace.
Tourism Ireland delivers on this role through:
- Undertaking destination-marketing programmes to stimulate demand for visiting the island of Ireland
- Facilitating and supporting business links to improve distribution of the Ireland tourism product to potential consumers, and
- Acting as an advocate for overseas consumers and trade to influence the quality of the tourism experience on the island of Ireland.
In achieving this, Tourism Ireland seeks to achieve two key goals:
- To increase tourism to the island of Ireland
- To support Northern Ireland to realise its tourism potential
NSMC Joint Secretariat
The NSMC Joint Secretariat was established in Armagh to effectively and efficiently support and facilitate the North/South Ministerial Council in developing consultation, co-operation and action within the island of Ireland on matters of mutual interest within the competence of both administrations. It is jointly-staffed by personnel from the Irish and Northern Irish civil services.
Following the suspension of the Executive, the two Governments put in place arrangements to provide for the continuing functions of the North/South Implementation Bodies.
These arrangements were designed to ensure that the Bodies would continue to fulfil their important public functions on a "care and maintenance" basis, pending the restoration of devolved government to Northern Ireland. This agreement provides a mechanism for decisions to be taken on policies and actions relating to the Implementation Bodies and Tourism Ireland during suspension. These "Interim Procedures" were put in place and are administered by the NSMC Joint Secretariat.
Communiqué May 2nd, 2006
01/02/06 British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference, Millbank, London
27/06/05 British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIGC) Meeting Downing Street
02/03/05 British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference, Iveagh House
15/12/04 British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference Hillsborough
07/0704 British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference, Farmleigh
21/04/04 British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference, Millbank
22/01/04 British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference, Farmleigh
18/09/03 British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference, Iveagh House
02/07/03 British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference, Millbank
22/10/02 British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference, Hillsborough
08/12/99 New British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference and Secretariat
Centre for Cross-Border Studies – an academic approach to cross-border issues.
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