International Agreements supplementing the British-Irish Agreement to be signed at Dublin Castle
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. David Andrews TD, and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Dr. Mo Mowlam, will tomorrow sign four Agreements between the Irish and British Governments supplementing the British-Irish Agreement of Good Friday last year. The new Agreements will provide for the establishment of the following institutions: six North/South Implementation Bodies; a North/South Ministerial Council; a British-Irish Council; and a British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference.
The signing ceremony will take place at Dublin Castle at 9.30 a.m.
Commenting on the signing, the Minister for Foreign Affairs said:
"This is a big day for the Good Friday Agreement. It marks a very important milestone in the implementation of the Agreement. It means that we are on course to finalise all the necessary arrangements so that the various institutions set out in the Good Friday Agreement will soon be ready to go live".
The Minister pointed to the substantial nature of the Agreement on the six North/South Implementation Bodies and said that it was the product of very intensive negotiations between the two Governments, in consultation with the Northern Ireland parties, over the past few months. The Minister added:
"These bodies have the capacity to bring very considerable practical benefits to this island, North and South, in the areas in question. They will also be living symbols of the new dispensation heralded by the Good Friday Agreement, with the focus on partnership and cooperation - working together for the common good, instead of standing apart in isolation and mutual mistrust".
Note for Editors
The Agreements establishing a North/South Ministerial Council, a British-Irish Council and a British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference are of a purely technical character and provide that these institutions will be constituted and will operate in accordance with the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement.
The Agreement establishing the six Implementation Bodies is more substantial and results from intensive negotiations with the British Government, in consultation with the Northern Ireland parties, following on from the political agreement on the identity of these Bodies reached on 18 December 1998.
The areas covered by the six Bodies are: Inland Waterways, Food Safety, Trade and Business Development, Special EU Programmes, Language, Aquaculture and Marine.
Each of the four International Agreements will enter into force on the date of entry into force of the British-Irish Agreement itself. While all the conditions for the entry into force of the British-Irish Agreement will have been met on the enactment of legislation in both jurisdictions giving domestic legal effect, as necessary, to the supplementary Agreements, the precise date is, politically, dependent on the formation of the Executive in Northern Ireland.
The Government will very shortly be bringing the necessary draft legislation before the Houses of the Oireachtas in regard to the Agreement establishing the Implementation Bodies.