British-Irish conference could help cooperation after Brexit – Varadkar
The British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference is to meet in London on July 25 amid impasse over devolved government in Belfast.
A rarely-used forum for Anglo/Irish cooperation on Northern Ireland could help ministers keep in touch after Brexit, the Irish Taoiseach has suggested.
The British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIGC) is to meet in London on July 25, 18 months after devolved government imploded in Belfast.
The mechanism gives the Irish a consultative role on non-devolved issues affecting Northern Ireland. It last met in 2007.
I meet the Prime Minister four or five times a year here in Brussels, after the UK leaves the EU those interactions may not necessarily happen any more Leo Varadkar
Leo Varadkar said: “Potentially it is a body that could be expanded to provide for structured cooperation between the British Government and the Irish Government after Brexit.
“Because while we see each other all the time, ministers meet their counterparts, I meet the Prime Minister four or five times a year here in Brussels, after the UK leaves the EU those interactions may not necessarily happen any more.
“So we need an alternative mechanism to do that and I think the BIGC could potentially be the mechanism by which we continue to cooperate and stay close as countries and Governments.”
Pleased to confirm a British Irish Intergovernmental Conference has been agreed between both Governments for 25th July, London. This is an important Good Friday Agreement structure for dialog and consultation and will have an agenda dealing with East/West and NI issues @rtenews— Simon Coveney (@simoncoveney) June 28, 2018
While the Cabinet Office did not mention the powersharing impasse in a statement announcing the initiative, instead describing the focus as “East West issues”, Ireland’s deputy premier Simon Coveney said “Northern Ireland issues” would be on the agenda.
Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington and Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley will attend.
The Irish government will be represented by Mr Coveney and Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan.