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Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
Northern Ireland Assembly Branch



1. As members of the Northern Ireland Assembly Branch of the CPA, Rev Dr R Coulter and Mr S Moutray attended the 53 rd meeting of the Association in New Delhi, India.

Official Opening

2. The official opening of the conference was attended and addressed by the President of India, Mrs Devisingh Patil. Delegates were also addressed on behalf of the Vice-President of India and by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Dr Chatterjee. A message was conveyed to the conference on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II as Patron of the Association.

CPA Conference

3. At the first plenary session, Dr D MacKinnon, Secretary General of the Commonwealth, paid tribute to the work of the CPA. In his final address to delegates after 8 years in post he spoke about the role of the Association in promoting democracy. He contrasted the role of parliamentarians with the role of governments. He reflected on a number of global issues including sustainable development, human trafficking, energy issues, and the role of governments in promoting democracy.

4. During the following days the conference heard reports from the Small Countries conference and the first conference held by Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (Ms X of Pakistan, who had attended the BIMR conference in Belfast in May 2007, was elected Chairwoman. An invitation to visit the Northern Ireland Assembly CPA Branch was extended to the new Chairwoman).

Regional Meeting

5. Delegates also attended regional meetings to hear updates on work at a more localised level. During the BIMR meeting the Chairman, Jamie Stone ( Scotland) offered warm congratulations to Northern Ireland on its re-admission to the Association. Delegates from other countries echoed his sentiment and there was general applause in support of the Chairman’s remarks.

Other Matters

6. Delegates were invited to a series of lunch and dinner events hosted by the Speakers of both Houses of the Indian Parliament, the leaders of government and opposition. A special invitation was extended to attend a garden party hosted by the President of India at her official residence.

Northern Ireland Branch

7. During the final plenary session delegates dealt with the formal business of annual reports and accounts as well as receiving reports from various bodies. Of special significance to the Northern Ireland delegation was the report of the Executive Committee which had granted re-admission to the Northern Ireland Branch. Delegates from across the Commonwealth warmly applauded, with delegates from other UK Branches standing, as Tyrone Crystal was presented to the President of the Association and the Secretary General (Dr W Shija) by Northern Ireland’s delegates.


8. Finally delegates were afforded opportunities to see some local attractions including a visit to the Parliament, the Nehru memorial and, most unforgettably, the Taj Mahal. Throughout the week, delegates were treated to warm and generous hospitality. Opportunities to network with colleagues from many other countries helped establish new views on the politics of Northern Ireland and many other places.

9. Attendance at the conference was a great success and it is recommended that Northern Ireland should send representatives to the 54 th conference scheduled for 1-10 August 2008.

1 October 2007