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Joint Communiqué of the Annual Review of the Ireland Scotland Joint Bilateral Review 2021-25

On 9 March 2022, Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, Simon Coveney TD and Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture, Angus Robertson MSP met in Dublin to review progress in implementation of the Ireland Scotland Joint Bilateral Review 2021-25. This was the first annual review meeting and follows a commitment in the report to an annual ministerial meeting to ensure that its ambitions are realised. 

The Joint Bilateral Review was launched in January 2021 and includes 41 recommendations across six thematic areas for which the Scottish Government has devolved responsibility, including Government to Government; Business and Economy; Community and Diaspora; Culture; Research and Academic; and Rural, Coastal and Island Communities, which is also a cross-cutting issue.

Minister Coveney and Cabinet Secretary Robertson reaffirmed their shared ambitions for the Ireland Scotland bilateral relationship, in the context of implementation of the Joint Bilateral Review, and noted the positive progress to date, including good cooperation between respective Health departments on efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. They further highlighted the regular important engagement at political and official level, including through the structures and summits of the British Irish Council.

While Ministers noted strong progress on almost 60% of the report’s recommendations, cooperation in the following areas was highlighted: 

-          Regular ministerial engagement between Scotland and Ireland with meetings between the Taoiseach and Scottish First Minister, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture, and between other line departments.  

-          A new memorandum of understanding between Historic Environment Scotland and Ireland’s Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage on joint work to address the impacts of climate change on our built and archaeological heritage.

-          Joint funding to the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Irish Academy for research collaboration to support cultural institutions to recover from challenges following the pandemic.

-          Cooperation between Teagasc and Scotland’s Rural College on the role of Digital Technology in securing a green rural economy

-          Joint production and broadcast by TG4 and BBC Alba of the documentary ‘Colmcille - An Naomh Dána’ to celebrate 1,500th year anniversary of the birth of Ireland and Scotland’s Saint Colmcille.

-          DFA funding of seven new artwork commissions by the Royal Irish Academy to mark the Colmcille anniversary. 

-          Engagement between Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Scottish Government officials to share approaches to both diaspora engagement and gender issues in international development. 

-          Increased awareness of Ireland’s Emigrant Support Programme in Scotland to support Irish community organisations in Scotland.

-          Exchange of best practice, including a virtual workshop, on increasing participation and inclusivity in sport, from a human rights perspective.

Ministers agreed that the report and recommendations of the Review would continue to guide Ireland-Scotland collaboration until 2025, and noted that in 2022 new collaborations are planned across all themes, including a “Literary Cities: Edinburgh” exhibition and season of events at the Museum of Literature Ireland in Dublin, and a joint innovation challenge to be launched by the Scottish Government’s CivTech public sector accelerator programme and the Western Development Commission in Ireland.  Ministers looked forward to a further annual review meeting in 2023.

The meeting was also an opportunity for Minister Coveney and Cabinet Secretary Robertson to discuss latest political developments across Ireland and Scotland, and more broadly, including EU-UK developments.


Press Office

9 March 2022


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