At the 42nd plenary of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly that is taking place in Cork today and tomorrow, the Assembly formally expressed its sympathy at the recent deaths of former Taoiseach, Garret FitzGerald, and the former Minister for Finance and Deputy Leader of Fianna Fail, Brian Lenihan.
Addressing the Assembly, the new Irish Co-Chair, Joe McHugh said, “The British Irish Parliamentary Assembly would like to extend its sympathy to the families of Brian Lenihan and Garret FitzGerald who passed away in recent weeks.
“Both of these men were in their own way major figures in Irish public life and who served our country on the international stage.
“Brian Lenihan was always an advocate of close co-operation between Ireland and Britain and developed an extremely close relationship with successive Chancellors of the Exchequer during his period as Minister for Finance.
“He recognised the importance of our respective economies to each other and our unique trading relationship.
“He was a man of considerable intellect and was able to apply this to the considerable economic challenges that he had to confront in the last three years.”
The British Co-Chair of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly, Lord Cope of Berkeley, added, “Garret FitzGerald held the highest offices as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Taoiseach. But above all that he was one of those stars who illuminate political life far more than the offices he held.
“We remember him particularly for his part in the Anglo Irish Agreement of 1985 and the cooperation between the British and Irish Governments which that embodied and on which ultimately the peace process itself was built.
“We extend our sympathy to his family and friends. We will miss him and his column in The Irish Times.”
This afternoon the group passed a motion condemning the murder of PSNI Officer Ronan Kerr earlier this year.
In his inaugural address as the new Irish Co-Chair of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly Joe McHugh TD said that the onus was now on all members of the Assembly to turn the success and momentum of the recent visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Ireland into real and tangible solutions for the economic difficulties that confront both Ireland and Britain.
Mr McHugh said that members of the Assembly should set aside their party political differences during their work in the Assembly’s committees and plenary sessions and collaborate constructively together on practical initiatives.
Mr McHugh commented: “This Assembly meets in plenary session one month after Queen Elizabeth II’s 4-day visit to the Republic of Ireland. That was the first visit by a British monarch to an independent Ireland. Her courtesy and the great symbolism of her visit have huge political significance for Irish people here in this country and all over the world. The Royal visit gives context to this plenary meeting, and it will give direction to the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly in its work in the coming political cycle.
“It was also a privilege to have the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, address us today. While he was upfront about the challenges that confront us, he also spelled out his determination to lead Ireland to recovery and growth over the coming years.
“For our part, during my term as Co-Chair of this Assembly I would like our members to commit themselves fully to driving the agenda of collaboration between Britain and Ireland not just when we are in plenary session but when we are speaking in our own Parliaments and working in our own constituencies.
“For example, we must give political support to those who work in the area of renewable energy and who wish to pool these islands’ Atlantic resources in wind, wave and energy production so that Britain and Ireland can sell energy to every country on this continent. We must also collaborate on marine production to capitalize on our shared marine resources. Let’s work together to build sister marine industries.
“Queen Elizabeth II’s historic visit has created the space for us to move beyond the issues that dominated the debate between Britain and Ireland in the past. Now we must move towards a better and even closer future. Let us get on with our work.”
The British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly (formerly the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body) was established in 1990 as a link between members of the Houses of Parliament and the Houses of the Oireachtas. In recent years, membership has been expanded to include representatives of the Scottish Parliament, the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Welsh Assembly, the High Court of Tynwald (Isle of Man) and the States of Guernsey and Jersey. Two plenary sessions, attended by 68 members and associates, are held every year alternately in Britain and Ireland with ongoing work by four Committees.
The Assembly is co-chaired by Joe McHugh TD and Lord Cope of Berkeley.Tags: