Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Review must build on success of All Ireland agenda

12 February, 2004

e to Editors

Sinn Féin's proposals to the Review - Expansion of All Ireland Institutions & Areas of Work

Sinn Féin proposes the expansion of the all-Ireland institutions and agencies envisaged by the Good Friday Agreement and the areas formally recognised as areas for co-operation.

The All Ireland commitments within the Agreement include: the All Ireland Consultative Forum, the Joint Parliamentary Forum, an All Ireland Charter of Human Rights and the North South or All Ireland Ministerial Council (AIMC).

Paragraphs 8 and 9 of the Strand Two commit the Council to a programme work covering 'at least' 12 areas, and to identify and agree Œat least 6 matters for co-operation and implementation.

In many areas informal cross border co-operation already exists. These informal contacts need strengthened and supported by being recognised as formal areas of co-operation.

The expansion of the areas of co-operation is indispensable in areas where most serious common problems face Ireland North and South (in particular in Health, Education and Transport). An all Ireland approach also is increasingly vital in the face of the current and developing political realities of an Ireland within the EU especially in the areas of Agriculture, Environment and Tourism.

In other areas the need for co-operation on an all Ireland basis has grown urgent, especially in relation to protecting Ireland's interests in EU negotiations. Agriculture is a prime example of a sector where Ireland's collective EU contribution warrants a single policy and its effective articulation in Brussels. There are, of course, many other important issues, such as Food Safety.

Developments of the scale envisaged require adequate infrastructure. This applies not only to health and education provision, but also in areas such as transport and communications. The delivery of strategic services, as proposed in the remits for implementation bodies and areas of co-operation, clearly creates the opportunity for significant savings in removing the prohibitive and unnecessary cost of administering two separate regions. Economies of scale and improvements in efficiency and effectiveness, can be substantial for example within the area of healthcare provision.

Summary of Sinn Féin‚s key proposals: -

  • Establishment of the institutional arrangements envisaged in the Good Friday Agreement - The All Ireland Parliamentary Forum and All Ireland Consultative Civic Forum.
  • An All-Ireland Human Rights Charter to underpin All Ireland governance, asserting comprehensive social, economic, political, civic and cultural rights.
  • Expansion of the scope and remit of existing All Ireland Implementation Bodies: The Language Body, incorporating Foras na Gaeilge (promotion of Irish) and the Ulster Scots Agency; Food Safety Promotion Board; Intertrade Ireland; Foyle & Carlingford, Irish Lights Commission; Special EU Programmes Board (SEUPB) and Waterways Ireland.
  • Expansion of the Areas of Cooperation and action across the island including Health (including a new Health Information and Research Institute and new Implementation body dealing with Mental Health), Agriculture (particularly on Animal Health, dealing with the EU and with a new Rural Development Implementation body), Transport, Education, Tourism (strengthening Tourism Ireland) and Environment (with a new Pollution Control agency).
  • Identification of new areas of co-operation including:
  • Community Development;
  • Arts and Heritage;
  • Economic Co-operation;
  • Public Investment.
  • Further Implementation bodies created covering:
  • Justice;
  • Policing;
  • Social Economy (A Social Economy Agency and Forum);
  • Energy (to support the emerging All Ireland energy market);
  • Mental Health;
  • Rural Development;
  • Pollution Control;
  • Telecommunications;
  • Higher and Further Education (particularly building on the Universities Ireland initiative)
  • The Cross Border Corridor Groups should be developed to deliver an integrative Anti-Poverty and Social Inclusion Strategy along with other programmes to eliminate the impact of partition.

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