Minister Flanagan in Belfast for 2016 Reconciliation Networking Forum14 December 2016
Minister Flanagan in Belfast for 2016 Reconciliation Networking Forum and discussions on the implementation of the Fresh Start & Stormont House Agreements
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD, is in Belfast today (Wednesday) for the 2016 Reconciliation Networking Forum and to review progress on the implementation of the Stormont House and Fresh Start Agreements.
Minister Flanagan will deliver the opening address at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s annual Reconciliation Networking Forum, which takes place this year in the Skainos Centre in East Belfast. The Forum brings together groups supported by the Department’s Reconciliation Fund as well as other organisations and individuals working on reconciliation on the island of Ireland.
In the afternoon Minister Flanagan will have a bilateral meeting with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire. The discussions will include the ongoing work to establish the Stormont House legacy bodies for dealing with the past and the establishment of the Independent Reporting Commission which is part of the collective effort to bring an end to the legacy of para-militarism in Northern Ireland.
Minister Flanagan and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland will co-convene a Review Meeting for the Stormont House and Fresh Start Agreements, with the participation of the Northern Ireland Executive. The Review Meeting will consider progress and next steps to achieve full implementation of the Stormont House and Fresh Start Agreements, including dealing with the legacy of the past, tackling residual paramilitarism and priority areas for North-South cooperation.
Speaking ahead of his visit Minister Flanagan said:
“I look forward to participating in the Reconciliation Networking Forum in Belfast tomorrow. Some 95 organisations will be represented and participants will have the opportunity to explore and debate some of the key issues facing civil society today, including the challenge of moving beyond the legacy of paramilitarism. This will be the 11th year we have held this Forum and it is always an important opportunity to engage with and listen to those working on the ground to further reconciliation.
“Tomorrow’s Review Meeting is an important opportunity for the two Governments and the Northern Ireland Executive to come together and work on our shared objective to achieve full implementation of the Stormont House and Fresh Start Agreements, which provide a vital framework for Northern Ireland in the period ahead.”
13 December 2016
Notes to editors:
1. The Reconciliation Fund has been in existence since 1982 and was increased significantly following the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. All parties to that Agreement undertook to “positively examine the case for enhanced financial assistance for the work of reconciliation.”
2. As a result the Irish Government has provided increased support through the Reconciliation Fund since 1998. In the 2014 Stormont House Agreement, the Government committed to “support measures to promote reconciliation, including through continued annual provision of €2.7m in the Reconciliation Fund”.
3. The closing date for the next round of funding is Friday 10th March 2017. Further information and application forms can be found at https://www.dfa.ie/reconciliation
4. A Fresh Start: ‘The Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan’ or the Fresh Start Agreement was concluded on 17 November 2015 following 10 weeks of talks co-chaired by the Irish and British Governments and involving the political parties of the Northern Ireland Executive. The Agreement provides a roadmap for the implementation of many aspects of the Stormont House Agreement of 23 December 2014 and a plan for ending paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland.
5. The Agreement provides for quarterly meetings, to be convened by the UK Government and Irish Government and involving the parties of the Northern Ireland Executive, to review implementation of the Stormont House and Fresh Start Agreements.