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North South Parliamentary Forum Conference
1. A North South Parliamentary Forum Conference ‘Building Strong Pillars’ took place in the Slieve Donard Hotel, Newcastle, Co. Down on Thursday, 7 October and Friday, 8 October.
2. It represented the first formal inter-parliamentary conference of representatives of all the main political parties from Ireland, North and South. The Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, William Hay, MLA, and the Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann, Séamus Kirk, TD, co-chaired the conference.
3. The Conference included plenary session discussions on themes of mutual interest: Parliamentary Relationships with Europe and European Agricultural and Rural Development Reform. It also provided an opportunity for members of the Northern Ireland Assembly and of the Houses of the Oireachtas to discuss the development of relationships between the two parliamentary institutions.
4. Following today’s Conference, the co-Chairs have asked the Working Groups, established in each institution to take forward discussions on the potential of the North South Parliamentary Forum, as envisaged in the Belfast/Good Friday and St. Andrew’s Agreements, including discussion on a further conference, an inaugural meeting, and other ideas suggested at the conference and to work jointly, taking into account the valuable contribution which the conference has made to a better understanding of key issues of interest and concern to members of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Houses of the Oireachtas.
Mr William Hay MLA