20 October 2008
SPEAKER WELCOMES SPEAKER OF OIREACHTAS TO ASSEMBLY
The Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Mr William Hay, today hosted a visit to the Assembly by the Ceann Comhairle of Dail Eireann, Mr John O’Donoghue TD and members of the Oireachtas Commission (the Commission of the Irish Parliament).
In the course of their one-day visit the Oireachtas Commission undertook a number of meetings with the corresponding Assembly committee, the Commission of the Northern Ireland Assembly. They also received briefings on the work of the Assembly’s Education Programme and plans that are being drawn up to increase engagement between the Assembly and the public.
The Speaker and Ceann Comhairle also took the opportunity to discuss the establishment of a North-South Parliamentary Forum, as agreed in both the Belfast Agreement and the St. Andrews Agreement. Building on a series of discussions over the last year the two Speakers today agreed to establish two working groups to develop proposals for such a body, one in the Assembly to be chaired by the Speaker, and one in the Oireachtas to be chaired by the Ceann Comhairle. The proposals will be considered by the Assembly and the Oireachtas in due course.
Speaking after their meeting Mr Hay said, “I am pleased that we are now taking the next steps towards establishing a forum which will provide MLAs and TDs further opportunities to share their knowledge, experiences and ideas, for the benefit of all the people they represent. Here at the Assembly we will work closely with all parties to ensure their views on the forum will be reflected in the work that lies ahead of us.”
Mr O’Donoghue added, “I am delighted that the Speaker and I are moving forward together on this important initiative, and I look forward to seeing proposals for a North-South Forum take shape. We have much to learn from eachother, and our recent meetings, and our visit to the Assembly today, underline the benefits of working together.”