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Written Answers. - Northern Ireland Issues.

Wednesday, 27 March 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 551 No. 3

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[789]

 53. Mr. Bell Information on Michael Bell Zoom on Michael Bell  asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen  the progress which has been made to date regarding the establishment of a North-South independent consultative forum, proposed in the Good Friday Agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10273/02]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen The Good Friday Agreement provided that consideration be given to the establishment of an independent consultative forum appointed by the two Administrations, North and South, and representative of civil society on the island. The Government also gave a commitment to work for the early establishment of this forum under the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness, PPF.

At the second plenary meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council, held in Dublin on 26 September 2000, the council agreed that a Joint North-South Working Group, comprising officials of both Administrations, be tasked with studying the establishment of the forum and reporting to the next plenary.

A report on the work of the Joint North-South Working Group was made to the third plenary meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council, which met in Dublin on 30 November 2001.

The matter was further discussed at the North-South Ministerial Council's first meeting in institutional format, held in Belfast on 17 December 2001, when it was agreed that the forum should be based on a formal interaction between structures representative of civil society in both parts of the island. The working group was charged with consulting with the Northern Ireland Civic Forum and the social partners participating in the central review mechanism of the PPF with a view to bringing forward proposals for consideration at the next plenary meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council, scheduled for May. That consultation process is now under way.


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