JOINT STATEMENT ANGLO-IRISH INTERGOVERNMENTAL CONFERENCE BELFAST
ANGLO-IRISH INTERGOVERNMENTAL CONFERENCE
BELFAST, 5 NOVEMBER 1997
1. A meeting of the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference was held in Belfast on 5 November 1997.
2. The Irish Government was represented by the Joint Chair, Mr David Andrews TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs, who was accompanied by Mr John O'Donoghue TD, Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, and by Ms Liz O'Donnell TD, Minister of State, Department of Foreign Affairs. The British Government was represented by the Joint Chair, the Rt Hon Dr Marjorie Mowlam MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, who was accompanied by Mr Adam Ingram MP, Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office, and Mr Paul Murphy MP, Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office.
3. The Conference considered developments in the multi-party Talks since the launch of substantive three-stranded negotiations on 24 September. Welcoming the progress made to date, the two Governments looked forward to intensive consultations among all delegations over the coming weeks which would build on the opening exchanges and facilitate detailed engagement in each of the strands.
4. Underlining the historic opportunity to achieve a comprehensive political accommodation which would mark a new beginning in each of the key relationships, the Conference hoped that the next phase of negotiations would assist in identifying areas of agreement and defining the elements of a possible accommodation.
5. They also noted that the draft initial Report of the Independent Commission on Decommissioning had been made available to the two Governments.
6. The Conference welcomed the continuing observance of the ceasefires while condemning unreservedly terrorist activities by some paramilitary groups. It reviewed the current security situation with the Chief Constable and the Garda Commissioner and paid tribute to recent successes in relation to arms finds.
7. Underlining the importance of confidence-building measures in underpinning peace and political progress, the Conference noted the measures the security forces had already taken in response to the ceasefires and discussed ways in which this response might be developed and built upon.
8. Reviewing the parades issue, the Conference noted the publication of the recently published Public Processions etc (Northern Ireland) Bill. It discussed how the potential for a repetition of the events of the last two summers could be averted through a balanced accommodation of rights in this area.
9. The Conference discussed a number of prison issues, including individual cases of current interest. Noting recent positive developments in relation to the transfer of prisoners between their jurisdictions, it considered the scope for future transfers.
10. It also considered the forthcoming legislation on policing in Northern Ireland, including the arrangements envisaged for the independent investigation of police complaints and other matters, and noted the relevance of these issues to the multi-party Talks.
11. The Conference also discussed the question of "Bloody Sunday". The Irish Government emphasised the need for action in this respect to be taken as soon as possible. The British Government explained that they were examining all the evidence recently presented to them, including that by the Irish Government, and intended to make an announcement on this subject as soon as possible.
12. The Conference welcomed the important changes made in the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Bill, including the removal of the internment provision and the introduction of a provision for police interviews with terrorist suspects to be audio-recorded, as well as the planned ending of exclusion orders.
13. The Conference noted that the British Government was preparing, as a priority, its response to the recommendations made by the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights in its Review of Fair Employment. The two Governments agreed to consult closely in this context.
WORKINGS OF THE ANGLO-IRISH AGREEMENT
14. The Conference considered proposals to enhance transparency in the workings of the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
NORTH/SOUTH ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL CO-OPERATION
15. The Conference agreed a list of subjects relating to North/South economic and social co-operation for discussion at its future meetings.
16. It also welcomed the recent agreement by the two Governments in relation to the completion of the Newry/Dundalk road link and the launching of the upgraded Belfast/Dublin rail link.
17. On fisheries, it also considered the operation of the Hague Preference in relation to Northern Ireland, and agreed that this matter should be pursued at official level.
18. The Conference noted the progress being made towards the extension of RTE broadcasting throughout Northern Ireland and looked forward to the early completion of this project.
19. It also discussed the prospects for the Springvale project.