North/South Inter-Parliamentary Association

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The North/South Inter-Parliamentary Association is an inter-parliamentary forum created between the national parliament of the Republic of Ireland (the Oireachtas) and the Northern Ireland Assembly. The Association has 48 members, drawn equally from members of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Oireachtas and will meet twice annually on a rotational basis.[1]

The forum is co-chaired by Seán Barrett and Mitchel McLaughlin. Barrett is the Ceann Comhairle (speaker) of Dáil Éireann (lower house) in the Republic of Ireland. McLaughlin is the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly.[1][2] An executive committee of 12 members, six each from the Oireacthas and the Northern Ireland Assembly, sets the agenda for each meeting.[3] The inaugural meeting dealt with the topics of child protection and the Ulster Canal. The second plenary session was scheduled took place on 26 April 2013 in Belfast.[2][4] The Association was envisioned as part of Strand 2 of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which dealt with the relationship between Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland, which is an independent state. The two parts of Ireland were partitioned in 1920. Under the 1998 Agreement, the two jurisdictions agreed to "consider" an inter-parliamentary forum (and an independent civic forum) alongside the North/South Ministerial Council that was established under the agreement.[5] In 2006, as part of the St Andrews Agreement, the Northern Ireland Executive agreed "[it] would encourage the parties in the [Northern Ireland] Assembly to establish" the forum.[6]

The formation of the Association was marked by a gathering of parliamentarians at Parliament Buildings, Belfast, Northern Ireland in July 2012.[1] The first plenary meeting of the Association took place on 12 October 2012 in the Seanad (senate) chambers of Leinster House, Dublin, Republic of Ireland.[7]

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  1. ^ a b c Moriarty, Gerry (July 5, 2012). "Formation of new North-South parliamentary association". Irish Times. 
  2. ^ a b North/South Inter-Parliamentary Association Inaugural Meeting, Northern Ireland Assembly, 12 October 2012 
  3. ^ "North/South Inter-Parliamentary Association". Houses of the Oireachtas. Retrieved 11 October 2012. 
  4. ^ "Joint Communiqué from the Second Plenary of the North/South Inter-Parliamentary Association". North/South Inter-Parliamentary Association. 26 April 2013. 
  5. ^ "Belfast Agreement" (PDF). 1998. The Northern Ireland Assembly and the Oireachtas to consider developing a joint parliamentary forum, bringing together equal numbers from both institutions for discussion of matters of mutual interest and concern. 
  6. ^ "Belfast Agreement" (PDF). 2006. The Northern Ireland Executive would encourage the parties in the Assembly to establish a North-South parliamentary forum bringing together equal numbers from the Oireachtas and the Assembly, and operating on an inclusive basis. 
  7. ^ "North/South Inter-Parliamentary Association Inaugural Meeting". Houses of the Oireachtas. 12 October 2012. 

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