March 8, 2018

CCBS Annual Conference 2018: The Good Friday Agreement in all its parts: safeguarding the totality of relationships

Date: 8 – 9 March 2018

Venue: Crowne Plaza Hotel, Dundalk

The 2018 Annual CCBS Conference, The Good Friday Agreement in All Its Parts: Safeguarding the totality of relationships, brought together more than 100 participants – some of whom were centrally involved in drafting and implementing the 1998 Agreement and the Devolution settlement for Northern Ireland – and many others who have since had responsibility for its implementation along with 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.

This year’s conference built upon the dialogue started with our 2016 conference, ‘Bordering Between Unions: What Does the UK Referendum on Europe Mean for Us?’ that focused on the likely economic, social and political implications of a UK withdrawal or the possible reforms leading to its continuing membership upon these islands and upon the wider future direction of Europe; and was continued at our 2017 conference, Building and maintaining relationships: within, across and beyond these islands after the Referendum.

CCBS Director, Ruth Taillon explained the thinking behind the choice of this year’s conference theme: “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 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.

Issues related to Ireland/Northern Ireland are central to the negotiations over the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. 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 and their associated obligations. Worryingly, in recent weeks, there have been comments from some advocates of a ‘hard’ Brexit that question the continued relevance of the 1998 Agreement as it becomes increasingly clear that it is difficult to reconcile withdrawal from the EU Single Market and Customs Union with protecting the Agreement in all its parts.”

Our opening keynote speaker on Thursday morning was Dr Martin Mansergh, a key architect of the 1998 Agreement, addressing “Brexit: The constitutional issues for the UK, Ireland and Northern Ireland”. Mr Hugh Logue, former special advisor to OFM/DFM and a former EU Commission official opened the afternoon session on Thursday with a talk on “Cooperation under the Good Friday Agreement: past, present and future”. The pre-dinner speaker on Thursday evening was Mr Tony Connelly, Europe Editor for RTE. Our keynote speaker on Friday morning was the Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP, on the topic, “How do we continue to moderate each other’s views through the Brexit process?”

 

The Conference also featured panel discussions on “Human rights and the Good Friday Agreement”; “Devolution agreements from the Good Friday Agreement to Brexit and beyond”;

“Building and maintaining relationship” and “Safeguarding the totality of relationships”.

 

The Conference Programme is available here.

 

 

Date / Time Event Details Watch/Listen
08/03/18
10.00am

Welcome

Dr Helen Johnston, Chair, Centre for Cross Border Studies

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08/03/18
10.15am

Keynote address

Brexit: The constitutional issues for the UK, Ireland and Northern Ireland

Dr Martin Mansergh, Vice Chair, Expert Advisory Group on Commemorations

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08/03/18
11.30am

Panel Discussion

Human rights and the Good Friday Agreement

CHAIR: Dr Anna Bryson, Board Member, Centre for Cross Border Studies

Ms Paddy Kelly, Director, Children’s Law Centre

Prof Siobhan Mullally, Director and Established Professor of Human Rights Law, Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway 

Mr Daniel Holder, Deputy Director, Committee on the Administration of Justice

Mr Michael Farrell, Member, Council of Europe Commission against Racism and Intolerance; and Member, Council of State

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08/03/18
2.00pm

Keynote address

Cooperation under the Good Friday Agreement: past, present and future

Mr Hugh Logue, Former European Commission Official

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08/03/18
3.00pm

Panel Discussion

Devolution agreements from the Good Friday Agreement to Brexit and beyond

CHAIR: Mr Colin Stutt, Board Member, Centre for Cross Border Studies

Mr David Brew, Executive Committee Member, European Movement in Scotland

Dr Etain Tannam, Associate Professor, International Peace Studies, Trinity College Dublin

Ms Brid Rodgers, Founder Member and Former Deputy Leader, SDLP

Mr Jim Gibney, Irish News Columnist and Sinn Féin member

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08/03/18
4.00pm

Presentation

The new Common Chapter for cooperation within and between these islands

Dr Anthony Soares, Deputy Director, Centre for Cross Border Studies

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08/03/18
4.20pm

Review of day one

Ms Ruth Taillon, Director, Centre for Cross Border Studies

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08/03/18
7.00pm

Pre-dinner speaker:

Mr Tony Connelly, Europe Editor, RTÉ

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09/03/18
8.55am

Opening remarks

Dr Helen Johnston, Chair, Centre for Cross Border Studies

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09/03/18
9.00am

Keynote address

How do we continue to moderate each other’s views through the Brexit process?

Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP, Conservative Party

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09/03/18
10.30am

Conversation

Building and maintaining relationships

CHAIR: Dr Anthony Soares, Deputy Director, Centre for Cross Border Studies

Dr Steve Aiken OBE MLA, Ulster Unionist Party

Mr Fergal Mythen, Director General, Ireland, UK and Americas Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Prof John O’Brennan, Jean Monnet Prof of European Integration, Maynooth University

Mr Justin McNulty MLA, SDLP

Dr Stephen Farry MLA, Alliance Party

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09/03/18
11.30am

Panel Discussion

Safeguarding the totality of relationships

CHAIR: Mr Tony Kennedy OBE, Board Member, Centre for Cross Border Studies

Mr Earl Storey, Board Member, Centre for Cross Border Studies  

Mr Owen Reidy, Assistant General Secretary, Irish Congress of Trade Unions

Mr John Webster, Head of the Scottish Government Office in Ireland

Mr Michael D’Arcy, Programme Lead, Ibec/CBI Northern Ireland Joint Business Council

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09/03/18
12.30am

Closing Remarks

Ms Ruth Taillon, Director, Centre for Cross Border Studies

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