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Minister Flanagan holds bilateral talks in Dublin with SoSNI James Brokenshire


Minister Flanagan holds bilateral talks in Dublin with Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire

-        British and Irish Governments sign international Agreement establishing the Independent Reporting Commission to tackle paramilitarism in N.I.

-        Brexit; Legacy Issues; the British Government proposals in respect of Human Rights legislation; & the Oireachtas motions re the Dublin & Monaghan bombings were among issues discussed

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire MP, today (Tuesday) signed an international Treaty in Dublin to provide for the establishment of the Independent Reporting Commission to tackle the vestiges of paramilitarism in Northern Ireland.

Following the signing, the Minister and the Secretary of State held bilateral talks.  Among the issues discussed were the challenges posed by a UK exit from the EU, the full implementation of the Stormont House and Fresh Start Agreements, and the pressing need to reach agreement on the institutions dealing with the legacy of the past.  The British Government proposals in relation to Human Rights legislation in the UK and the All-Party Oireachtas motions regarding the Dublin and Monaghan bombings were also discussed.

The Independent Reporting Commission (IRC) is provided for under the Fresh Start Agreement which was concluded last November following a series of talks at which Minister Flanagan represented the Irish Government.

Following the meeting, Minister Flanagan said, with regard to Brexit:

“I had an open and productive discussion today with Secretary of State on the consequences of the UK electorate’s decision to exit from the European Union, as it impacts on Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland.

“I set out the Government’s concerns regarding Brexit, and our views on where further work and engagement will be needed, in particular regarding the shared concerns on Northern Ireland. This includes the maintenance of the open border, and ensuring that the huge benefits of the peace process are not disturbed by a UK exit.

“I agreed with the Secretary of State that the Good Friday Agreement is and will remain the foundation for cooperation between the Irish and British Governments on Northern Ireland and that this will have to be clearly upheld throughout the process, and in the final arrangements between the United Kingdom and the European Union.”

On legacy issues, the Minister said:

“Achieving an agreement to move ahead with the comprehensive framework for dealing with the past, as provided for in Stormont House Agreement, is a long-standing priority for the Government. I am glad that Secretary of State Brokenshire shares this view and our determination to press forward decisively in the period ahead.

“There remain a number of outstanding issues and I will therefore be continuing to engage with the Secretary of State and with the Executive and other parties in Northern Ireland, to see how we can reach an overall agreement as soon as possible.  I know from my engagement with victims and survivors that there is an urgent need to achieve progress, and victims and survivors and societal healing is at the core of my approach to these issues.”

On the IRC Treaty, Minister Flanagan said:

“I was pleased to sign today, on behalf of the Government, the agreement to establish the Independent Reporting Commission. This is an important step in implementing the Fresh Start Agreement provisions to free vulnerable communities from the vestiges of paramilitarism and to tackle organised crime.

“Eighteen years after the Good Friday Agreement, we are in a place where paramilitary murders are infrequent.  However, under the radar some communities in Northern Ireland remain subject to daily intimidation, bullying and control by thugs and criminals.  This is not acceptable in any society.

“The Treaty provides a supervisory framework for the work to be taken forward by the Northern Ireland Executive.  Political and community leadership and the involvement of a range of public sector bodies across Northern Ireland will be required if people are to feel empowered to resist intimidation in their localities.

“The IRC has a vital role to play in reporting impartially and authoritatively on this work. In so doing the IRC will help the peace builders in communities to replace fear and intimidation with hope and opportunity for people all across Northern Ireland.”

On the British Government’s proposals regarding human rights legislation, Minister Flanagan said:

“Both governments are committed to the Good Friday Agreement.  I would be concerned about any proposals that may undermine any aspect of that or subsequent Agreements.  I made this clear to the Secretary of State and I intend to remain in close contact with the British Government on this issue.  I was encouraged by the Secretary of State’s assurance that the UK will not be withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Notes for Editors:

Independent Reporting Commission

  • Establishment of the Independent Reporting Commission is a key element of the Fresh Start Agreement, agreed in Belfast in November 2015.
  • The Irish Government’s Programme for Government commits to the full implementation of the Fresh Start Agreement.
  • The purpose of the IRC is to promote progress towards ending paramilitary activity connected with Northern Ireland, in the interests of long-term peace and stability and stable and inclusive devolved government in Northern Ireland
  • The IRC treaty between the Irish and British Governments provides for the establishment of the Commission as an international body.  The IRC will then need to be established in the domestic law of each jurisdiction, as appropriate.
  • The IRC will be a four-member international body established by the UK and Irish Governments.  The UK Government and the Irish Government will nominate one member each and the Northern Ireland Executive will nominate two members.
  • The IRC will report annually on progress towards ending continuing paramilitary activity connected with Northern Ireland.  IRC reports will inform future NI Executive Programme for Government commitments through to 2021.