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Taoiseach hosts 33rd British-Irish Council Summit at Farmleigh

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar is today (Friday) hosting Administration Heads from Scotland, Wales, and the British Government at the 33rd British Irish Council (BIC) Summit at Farmleigh House in Dublin.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the inaugural meeting of the British-Irish Council. The Summit will focus on the implications of Brexit for relations between Ireland and the UK’s Regional Administrations.

The Taoiseach will hold bilateral discussions with the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon.  Heads of Administrations from Wales and the Channel Islands will also attend the Summit, along with the Head of the UK delegation, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Julian Smith.

Twenty years on from its establishment under the 1998 Multi-Party Agreement, the British-Irish Council plays an important role by furthering links between its eight Member Administrations.  It’s an important forum for exchanging information, discussing policies of mutual interest, and fostering positive relationships.

The implications of Brexit will be the main topic for discussion, particularly its potential impact on relations across the islands, preserving the Common Travel Area, and maintaining relations with the EU.  The Council will also discuss the political situation in Northern Ireland, and Ireland’s regret that Northern Ireland will not be represented politically at this important forum until the Executive is restored.

Minister for Health, Simon Harris and Minister of State with responsibility for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne are also attending. They are hosting a discussion on substance misuse. The Ministers will explore the links between health and social initiatives and community policing, and their long-term social and economic benefits to communities.  In advance of the Summit meeting (on Thursday evening), health ministers from the travelling delegations will visit the North East Inner City Inclusion Health Hub,  a project which focuses on the transformation of the delivery of health services for drug users in the city. It’s the first facility of its kind in this country.

A Communiqué will issue from the BIC at the conclusion of the Summit.

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