Date: 8 – 9 March 2018
Venue: Crowne Plaza Hotel, Dundalk, Ireland
As we approach the 20th Anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement we must ask ourselves how we continue to put into practice our commitment to the totality of relations within and between these islands that it represents. The Strand 1 institutions (the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly) have not functioned since January 2017, and therefore without Northern Ireland Ministers, there have been no North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) meetings (Strand 2), although there remains cooperation at Departmental level and the NSMC Ministerial Council Joint Secretariat continues to function. The Strand 3 bodies – the British Irish Council and the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIGC) – should in the context of Brexit be increasingly important mechanisms for cooperation. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has stated that under the Good Friday Agreement “if nothing’s devolved then everything is devolved to the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference” and that he would be calling for a meeting of the BIIGC early in 2018.
All of this, of course, coincides with the negotiations over the UK’s withdrawal from the EU in which issues related to Ireland/Northern Ireland are central. The negotiations have indicated that there are at least 141 policy areas/powers returning from the EU which intersect with the devolution settlement in Northern Ireland. While all parties to the negotiations have stated their support for the Agreement “in all its parts”, it is not clear if there is common understanding of what this means or what are their associated obligations.
The 2018 Conference will bring together some of the people centrally involved in drafting and implementing the 1998 Agreement and the Devolution settlement for Northern Ireland, people who have since had responsibility for its implementation and others whose work as peacebuilders and cross-border cooperation practitioners has given life and substance to the ethos and objectives of the Agreement through good times and bad.
Our opening keynote speaker will be Dr Martin Mansergh, a key architect of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. The pre-dinner speaker on Thursday evening will be Mr Tony Connelly, Europe Editor for RTE.
Please fill out and return the Conference Booking Form to secure your place.
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