Written answers

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Department of An Taoiseach

British-Irish Council

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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41. To ask the Taoiseach if he will report on the recent meeting of the British-Irish Council. [29118/19]

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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43. To ask the Taoiseach if he will report on the British- Irish Council meeting in Manchester; the issues discussed; if decisions were taken; and the bilateral meetings he had. [29521/19]

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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44. To ask the Taoiseach if he will report on his recent meeting with the First Minister of Scotland, Ms Nicola Sturgeon. [29686/19]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 41, 43 and 44 together.

I attended the 32nd British Irish Council (BIC) Summit which was hosted in Manchester by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Rt. Hon David Lidington MP on Friday 28 June. I was accompanied by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton TD.

First Ministers from Scotland, Wales along with Heads of Administration from the Crown Dependencies also attended the summit meeting.

The discussion at the summit covered key political developments for Administrations since the last summit in November. The discussion focused largely on the implications of Brexit, particularly for relationships across the islands. The Council also discussed the current political situation in Northern Ireland and I again reiterated my regret that Northern Ireland, until the Executive is restored, continues to be without political representation in this important forum.

Building on the shared goal of decarbonising our economies, Minister Bruton took part in a thematic discussion to explore how best we can facilitate the transition by smartening our energy systems. Ministers explored policy approaches to enabling this transition, the facilitation of key technologies, smart energy at a local scale and funding for innovation.

The Council also received an update on the BIC Marine Litter event held in Glasgow in February.

I took the opportunity to have bilateral discussions with Rt. Hon David Lidington, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and with First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford who was attending his first summit meeting. In all meetings we exchanged views on issues of mutual interest and continued co-operation with discussions focusing mainly on Brexit and its impacts on business and citizens. We also spoke on developments in Westminster and Brussels.

At my meeting with FM Sturgeon we also discussed developments in relation to Rockall and agreed that our shared aim is to resolve differences in a way which benefit both countries, and to develop further an already strong bilateral relationship.

Following the summit I officially opened the new ESB energy offices in Manchester where I attended Enterprise Ireland's first Business CEO Roundtable with Irish companies operating in the UK's “Northern Powerhouse” region. I also met with the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham and visited the Sisk development at Circle Square.

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