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CCBS Submission to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee’s Inquiry into the effectiveness of the institutions of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement

Posted On: 15 Dec 2022

East-West North-South Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee launched an inquiry into the effectiveness of the Institutions of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. The inquiry will examine how effective institutions such as the Northern Ireland Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive have been in enabling cross-community, stable and effective government in Northern Ireland and explore what changes could be made to enable those institutions to work better in future.

The Centre for Cross Border Studies responded to the inquiry and the response has been published by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. The inquiry remains ongoing.

The Centre’s response is informed by the Centre’s particular knowledge of and experience in engaging with political representatives and officials on cross-border socio-economic development involving a range of sectors from both Northern Ireland and Ireland, including public bodies, business and civil society. It focuses on those issues of greatest relevance to the Centre for Cross Border Studies’ work.

The response highlights that the effectiveness of the institutions depends on the commitment on the political will of the parties involved. It stresses that the Strand One institutions have enabled cross-community government, while not translating as offering effective representation within the institutions for those who identify as neither nationalist or unionist. It argues that while the legislation passed by Strand One institutions covers a wide range of policy areas it has failed to address a number of crucial issues, as reflected in the priorities for the restored Executive set out in NDNA. This is not due to the design of the Strand One institutions but rather to a lack of political will and leadership.  

The response outlines The Centre’s belief that the Strand Two and Three institutions do offer a valuable framework for maintaining and building North-South and East-West cooperation and relations but that their effectiveness is undermined by the failure to engage in these institutions with the regularity and seriousness envisioned by the Agreement.

The response reiterates the Centre’s belief in the importance of the role of the voice of civic society in the institutions of all three Strands of the agreement. This voice should also be clearly heard in any debate about future reform of the institutions.

You can read all evidence published by the Committee here. The Committee will publish its report based on the inquiry in the coming months.

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