Speaking ahead of today’s opening of the 44th plenary of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly in the Seanad chamber, Leinster House, Dublin, the Co-Chairmen of the Assembly, Joe McHugh TD, and Laurence Robertson MP, have said that building trade opportunities between Britain and Ireland is key to economic growth and boosting employment in both countries.
The Co-Chairmen said that the Assembly would specifically consider practical measures to boost trade through the plenary’s theme of ‘making business easier between Britain and Ireland.’
They added that the input of successful business-people to the plenary through an address by Darina Allen of Ballymaloe cookery school on Monday on opportunities for the food sector in Britain and Ireland and a panel discussion with leaders from the agrifood, manufacturing and pharmaceutical sectors was an innovative way of speaking directly to key businesses to identify their priorities.
An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, will address the plenary theme in his address to the Assembly today.
The plenary will also be addressed by the Minister for Health, James Reilly TD, on opportunities for healthcare co-operation, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar TD, and the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Brian Hayes TD.
This afternoon the Assembly will also discuss a motion on the announced closure of the RTE office in London.
Joe McHugh TD, commented, “The UK accounts for 42% of total Irish exports, and Ireland is the fifth largest market for British businesses. It is vital that we continue to develop this trading relationship, in particular in the context of the economic downturn. One such area is through building opportunities for trade and investment between our islands.
“The feedback from business leaders is therefore crucial in building a policy environment that supports and encourages trade.
“Furthermore, as a representative for a border constituency I am particularly aware of the need for an examination of shared services in the area of healthcare provision. For example, I hope that we will discuss the potential of shared services between Britain and Ireland for chronic and rare diseases. In regard to the current debate on the location for the new children’s hospital in Dublin we should initiate a discussion on whether services can be shared between Britain and Ireland in the context of developing the new facility.
Laurence Robertson MP added, “Following extremely successful plenaries in Cork last June and Brighton in October, I look forward as newly appointed British Co-Chair to further developing the Assembly’s work in key areas of British-Irish co-operation. The visit of HM Queen Elizabeth II to Ireland last May was a momentous occasion and it is appropriate that almost exactly one year on from that event we assess what practical steps we can take to deepen Anglo-Irish relations on behalf of the people we represent.”