New British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference and Secretariat comes into effect
The British-Irish Agreement took effect on Thursday, 2 December 1999. This established, among other new institutions, a standing British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference which subsumes both the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference and the Intergovernmental Conference established under the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement. The new Agreement replaces the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985 which accordingly has ceased to have effect.
Under the terms of the British-Irish Agreement, the new Conference is supported by officials of the British and Irish Governments, including a standing Joint Secretariat of officials dealing with non-devolved Northern Ireland matters. This Secretariat will also work closely with Irish and British Government Departments in relation to the wider bilateral responsibilities of the new Conference.
The British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference will 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. An inaugural Summit level meeting of the Conference will take place on 17 December.
There will also be regular and frequent meetings of the Conference concerned with non-devolved Northern Ireland matters. Northern Ireland Ministers will be involved in meetings of the Conference concerned with non-devolved Northern Ireland matters.
Co-operation within the framework of the Conference in this regard will include facilitation of co-operation in security matters. It will also address, in particular, the areas of rights, justice, prisons and policing in Northern Ireland (unless and until responsibility is devolved to a Northern Ireland Administration) and will intensify co-operation between the two Governments on the all-Ireland or cross-border aspects of these matters.
Note for Editors
1. Further details about the work of the BIIGC and BIIGS are set out in the ‘Strand Three' section of the Belfast Agreement.
2. The British-Irish Intergovernmental Secretariat will comprise a team of British and Irish civil servants, headed by two Joint Secretaries. The British Joint Secretary will be: Peter Bell; the Irish Joint Secretary will be Donal Hamill. The address of the new Secretariat is:
British-Irish Intergovernmental Secretariat
9-15 Bedford Street
Belfast BT2 7EL
3. The Secretariat can be contacted on 048 90 443900 or 0801 232 443900