Thursday 13 December 2018

Controversial North-South 'talking shop' revived

Meeting: Arlene Foster. Picture: PA
Meeting: Arlene Foster. Picture: PA

David Young

A controversial peace process body that brings together the UK and Irish governments is to be revived amid efforts to restore powersharing in Northern Ireland.

The British Irish Inter-Governmental Conference is to meet in London on July 25.

The mechanism gives the Irish a consultative role on non-devolved issues affecting the North. It last met in 2007.

Sinn Féin and the SDLP have long been calling for the re-establishment of the conference as a way to inject fresh impetus into the stalled political process.

Some unionists have been wary of the conference amid concerns of handing too much influence to the Dublin Government. DUP leader Arlene Foster has previously dismissed it as a "talking shop".

Meanwhile, Ms Foster continued her moves to portray a more modern side to the DUP by becoming the first leader to attend an event hosted by the LGBT community in Belfast.

The DUP has been heavily criticised by LGBT activists for past derogatory comments about gay people and its ongoing resistance to same-sex marriage in the region.

Ms Foster also made history on Sunday by becoming the first DUP leader to attend the GAA's Ulster football final, between Fermanagh and Donegal.

Irish Independent

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