Donaldson calls on Dublin to respect remit of British/Irish body

Lagan Valley MP, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson
Lagan Valley MP, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson

The “clearly defined” remit of the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIC) should be respected by those seeking to broaden its scope, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said.

The DUP MP was commenting after the role of the BIIC was raised in the Dail this week – including calls for the body to “discuss practical matters relating to Brexit” in addition to the ‘non devolved’ issues within its remit.

During the Dail debate on Thursday, Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said the BIIC meeting on July 25 will “discuss the effective operation of the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement, North-South security co-operation and bilateral cooperation between the British and Irish government.”

However, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said it was “singularly disappointing how limited the agenda is,” and added: “In particular, there appears to be, on the face of it, an entirely unacceptable attempt to keep Brexit-related issues off the agenda.

“The conference is entitled to discuss all non-devolved issues. This includes the overall operation of the devolution settlement, which is on the agenda. However, given the number of areas where the British government has recently denied the role of devolved administrations, the list of areas that can and should be discussed is dramatically longer than the last time the conference met in 2007.”

Mr Donaldson dismissed the comments at “irrelevant,” and said Dublin politicians should “honour their obligations” on a remit that is “clearly defined in law and in the [Belfast] Agreement”.

He added: “As for Brexit, this is a matter for the UK government and Brussels to negotiate. Dublin, to a certain extent, is watching from the sidelines in that negotiation, albeit they have a very clear stake in the outcome, and we hope that the outcome will be a Brexit that benefits us all. But there is a risk at the moment that Brussels and Dublin overplay their hand and end up with no deal, and that will not be in Dublin’s interest.”