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Joint Communiqué of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIC), London, 17 December 1999

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Text: British and Irish Governments ... Page compiled: Brendan Lynn

Joint Communiqué of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIC),
10 Downing Street, London, 17 December 1999


1. The inaugural summit level meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIC), established under the British-Irish Agreement, 1998, was held at 10 Downing Street, London, on 17 December 1999.

2. The meeting was chaired jointly by the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Tony Blair MP and the Taoiseach, Mr Bertie Ahern TD. The Prime Minister was accompanied by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the Rt Hon Peter Mandelson MP. The Taoiseach was accompanied by the Tanaiste, Ms Mary Harney TD, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr David Andrews TD, and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr John O'Donoghue TD. The Northern Ireland Executive was represented at the meeting by the First Minister, the Rt Hon David Trimble MP, MLA and the Deputy First Minister, Mr Seamus Mallon MP, MLA.

3. The establishment of the conference was welcomed as a further step towards the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. The conference noted that it would bring together the British and Irish Governments to promote bilateral co-operation at all levels on all matters of mutual interest within the competence of both Governments. The Conference approved a Memorandum of Understanding regarding supplementary procedural arrangements relating to its operation. In line with the Good Friday Agreement, these arrangements involve representatives of the Northern Ireland Executive in the Conference.

4. The Conference noted that, in recognition of the Irish Government's special interest in Northern Ireland and of the extent to which issues of mutual concern arise in relation to Northern Ireland, there would be regular and frequent meetings of the Conference concerned with non-devolved Northern Ireland matters on which the Irish Government might put forward views and proposals. Such meetings will be co-chaired by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and will also deal with all-island and cross-border co-operation on non-devolved issues.

5. The Conference agreed an initial list of issues which will form a programme of work. In respect of bilateral co-operation, these include: - asylum and immigration, including Common Travel Area issues - European Union and international issues - Social security including methods of fraud detection - Education - Policy on misuse of drugs; combating organised crime and associated money-laundering - Fiscal issues.

6. In respect of non-devolved Northern Ireland matters, including any all-island or cross-border aspects, issues include: - rights - policing, including implementation of the Patten Report - criminal justice - normalisation of security arrangements and practices - cross-border security co-operation - victims of violence - prison issues - drugs and drug trafficking - broadcasting.

7. The Conference noted that either Government could propose other subjects for further study or discussion.

8. The Conference reviewed the current situation in Northern Ireland. It welcomed unreservedly the establishment of an inclusive Executive, and of the North/ South Ministerial Council, the Implementation Bodies and the British-Irish Council. It commended the role played by the First Minister and Deputy First Minister and by the political parties in making these developments possible. Special tribute was also paid to Senator George Mitchell, whose review provided a basis for devolution to occur, for the institutions to be established, and for decommissioning to take place as soon as possible. Stressing the unprecedented opportunity now available for lasting peace and reconciliation, the Conference madeclear its commitment to the full implementation of the agreement in all its aspects. The Conference also affirmed its resolute determination to oppose all those who sought to achieve their political objectives by violence, or the threat of violence.

9. The Conference also reviewed bilateral co-operation between the two Governments and reaffirmed the importance of developing that co-operation for the benefit of all the people of these islands.

10. The Conference envisaged that its next meeting at Summit level would take place during the first half of 2000, and that its first meeting on non-devolved Northern Ireland matters would take place in January. It was agreed that meetings on other issues, including those arising from the Work Programme, would be arranged as necessary.


Joint Secretariat British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference 17 December, 1999


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