September 26, 2002

North South Consultative Forum

During 2001 and 2002, a group of people from non-governmental organisations involved in North/South co-operation met informally to discuss the proposal in the 1998 Belfast Agreement to set up an independent North/South Consultative Forum representative of the social partners and other elements of civil society in both jurisdictions.

Represented at those meetings were Co-operation Ireland, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the IBEC-CBI Joint Business Council, Centre for Cross Border Studies, Democratic Dialogue, the Institute for British-Irish Studies, the Rural Community Network and the Institute of Public Health in Ireland. They have been convened and chaired by Tony Kennedy, chief executive of Co-operation Ireland.

On 28 June 2002 a plenary meeting of the North/South Ministerial Council in Armagh agreed an outline structure for a North/South Consultative Forum.
To quote from the communiqué after the meeting:

A twice yearly conference will take place, alternating between north and south, comprising representatives of civil society, north and south. The planning and organisation of the first conference would be undertaken by a steering committee drawn from the Northern Ireland Civic Forum and the social partners in the South participating in the Central Review Mechanism of the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness, in liaison with the two administrations.

The informal group of North/South NGO representatives has decided to organise a ‘round table’ seminar to discuss this development and other matters relevant to the proposed Consultative Forum and the role of civil society organisations within it.

See the details on the round table seminar.