Joint Communiqué: British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference, 22 October 2002
1. A meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference was held at Hillsborough Castle on 22 October 2002.
2. The British Government was represented by the Joint Chair, the Rt. Hon. Dr. John Reid MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, who was accompanied by Jane Kennedy, MP, Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office. The Irish Government was represented by the Joint Chair, Brian Cowen TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs, who was accompanied by Michael McDowell TD, Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The Chief Constable and the Deputy Garda Commissioner were also present.
General Political Matters
3. The Conference reviewed recent political developments. Both Governments reiterated their commitment to the implementation of the Agreement as the only way forward and the only viable future for the people of Northern Ireland. It is their determined wish to see devolved Government restored as soon as possible and, in any event, in advance of the scheduled elections. Both Governments believe that a representative Assembly and an inclusive Executive remain the most appropriate form of government for Northern Ireland.
4. The two Governments remain convinced that it is also essential that all parties in the political process are fully committed to exclusively peaceful and democratic means. There can be no place in Northern Ireland for the twin scourges of paramilitarism and sectarianism.
5. The Conference reviewed a number of confidence issues, including the process of security normalisation, the implementation of changes to the Criminal Justice system, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, the review of the operation of the Parades Commission and the Barron Inquiry into the Dublin/Monaghan bombings. On Policing matters, the British Government confirmed its intention to introduce amending legislation as early as possible in the forthcoming Parliamentary Session, in accordance with the provisions of the revised Implementation Plan.
6. The Conference was briefed by the Chief Constable and the Deputy Garda Commissioner on cross-border security matters. There was also a wide-ranging discussion on paramilitary activities, sectarian violence and disturbance in interface areas.
Institutional Consequences of Suspension
7. The Conference discussed the implications of suspension for the operation of the various institutions under the Agreement. These discussions reflected the determination of both Governments to protect the achievements of the Agreement in all its aspects, and considered what practical steps are needed to be taken in this regard.
Date of Next Meeting
8. The Conference agreed to meet again in December.