Speaking in the Dail today during the inaugural debate on the outcomes of this week’s 44thplenary of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly in Seanad Eireann, the Co-Chairman of the Assembly, Joe McHugh TD, announced a series of practical measures that would be implemented as a result of the two day meeting.
These practical measures initiating discussions with Governments on an annual British Irish trade mission; expanding co-operation between North and South on healthcare co-operation; and supporting the showcasing of Irish food at local level.
Deputy McHugh said that it is incumbent on all members of the Assembly to demonstrate to the public the value that these plenary meetings bring, and that having a specific Dail debate on these outcomes and progressing these key issues was an important example of this.
Deputy McHugh commented: “The British Irish Parliamentary Assembly was first established in 1990 and played an important role in developing the positive relationships between our two countries that helped achieve peace, and ultimately cumulated in last year’s historic visit by Queen Elizabeth II to Ireland.
“In the present context of economic downturn and deep recession, it is vital that the Assembly is used to identify positive measures in a range of areas that will benefit the people its members represent. For that reason, this plenary’s theme of ‘Making business easier between Britain and Ireland’ was focused on practical solutions.
“Among the measures we have identified is the proposal to hold an annual British Irish trade mission, alternating between our two countries that my co-Chair, Laurence Robertson MP, and I will now bring to our Governments. This idea was first proposed by one of our guest speakers, Sean O’Driscoll of Glen Dimplex, and the Assembly fully supported it.
“Another practical measure was proposed by Darina Allen of Ballymaloe Cookery School who suggested that in order to boost local food, members of the Assembly should ensure to promote local producers to the greatest extent possible during their work.
“These are examples of actions at national Government level combined with simple and achievable steps by local representatives that demonstrate the value that an institution such as the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly can achieve. I look forward to continuing this work and demonstrating the value that we can bring over the coming years.”