Sinn Féin - On Your Side

September talks must unlock potential of All Ireland Agenda

18 August, 2004


Sinn Féin Vice President, West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty has said that the British government must face down face down rejectionists within the NIO that have frustrated the implementation of the All Ireland components of the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Doherty said:

"Both governments are committed to expanding working relationships on an all Ireland basis through not just the Agreement but also the Common Chapter that contains an agreed programme of work. It is vital that the two governments, and particularly the British government face down rejectionists within the NIO that have frustrated the implementation of the All Ireland Agenda. The September talks must to find an agreed mechanism to unlock potential of All Ireland Agenda.

"Engagement in the All Ireland agenda and building on the important progress achieved to date to deliver for all the people of Ireland remains a challenge for all the political leaders on this island. The expansion of the scope and remit of existing All Ireland Implementation Bodies and areas of cooperation along with the identification of new areas of harmonisation and action and creation of new implementation bodies are a vital step in unlocking the potential of the Agreement.

"There is a particular urgency in the need to develop an all Ireland approach within the context of a rapidly changing Europe. This is particularly important 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. Unleashing the potential of working together on this small island will enhance the future of our farming and fishing communities and help provide a better future for rural Ireland

"The experience of the workings of All Ireland structures has been positive. Representatives from all political perspectives have acknowledged the benefits of an integrated island wide approach. The latent potential and pressing need for further development has been acknowledged by the All-Ireland Ministerial Council and by other stakeholders in society, including the agricultural, educational and business sectors. There is a growing consciousness that the well-being, in some cases the survival, of specific sectors will depend on delivery on an All Ireland basis. There are also real savings that can be made by removing duplication, in pooling resources and in developing economies of scale." ENDS

Note to Editors

Sinn Féin's proposals on the 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 'at 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; IntertradeIreland; 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 All Ireland 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 including;

  • Energy (to support the emerging All Ireland energy market)
  • Mental Health
  • Rural Development
  • Pollution Control

· 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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