Minister for Foreign Affairs Welcomes Shared Approaches to Meeting Economic Challenges at the North/South Ministerial Council meeting
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mícheál Martin TD, has welcomed today's North/South Ministerial Council Plenary meeting, hosted by the Taoiseach in Farmleigh, as another valuable opportunity for the Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to consider shared approaches to meeting current economic challenges, North and South.
Minister Martin said: "Today's discussions represent a further intensification of our North-South contacts on how to return this island to a path of sustainable and enduring growth. Cross-border relations have never been better and we welcome these opportunities to sit down with our Northern Ireland colleagues and chart a way forward.
The North/South Ministerial Council is proving its worth in these difficult times. Today's event is our fourth NSMC Plenary meeting since restoration of the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly in May 2007. We have also had some 37 Ministerial meetings over the last two years, each one including Ministers from both traditions in the North and their southern counterparts. We are agreeing joint initiatives in areas like transport, health, agriculture and the environment and overseeing the work of important North/South Bodies like Tourism Ireland and InterTradeIreland.
Where once Ministers North and South may have read about their differences in a newspaper, today they are picking up the phone or meeting in person, discussing options and coordinating plans on an all-island basis. This is how we have had such excellent cooperation on issues like the recent influenza A/H1N1 outbreak; the agreement on the removal of illegally dumped waste; and the delivery of high-speed international broadband connectivity for the North-West through Project Kelvin."
On today's meeting, Minister Martin said: "We had another excellent discussion on our strategies for economic recovery and for overcoming the challenges facing the banking sector. We also welcomed progress on the A5 road to Derry and Letterkenny and the A8 road from Belfast to Larne and were pleased to endorse a first Government contribution to the projects of €9 million.
It is clear that we are stronger when we share approaches and weaker when we work alone. Both administrations stand to gain by promoting this island as a centre of excellence for innovation and cutting-edge research and, similarly, we both stand to save money if we can eliminate duplication in the provision of services on the island. These are common sense approaches on issues of clear mutual benefit and I look forward to examining, through the North/South Ministerial Council, how we can translate our shared ambitions into concrete joint initiatives."
6 July 2009