Thursday 21 June 2018

British Irish Assembly to meet in Sligo

The British Irish Parliamentary Assembly is coming to Sligo
The British Irish Parliamentary Assembly is coming to Sligo

Sorcha Crowley

Sligo will play host to some of the most influential politicians in Ireland and the UK this Spring.

For the first time ever, the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly's 56th plenary will be held in Sligo in March.

It's "a big deal" according to the Vice-Chair of the Assembly Senator Frank Feighan.

"It brings politicians from Northern Ireland, the UK, Scotland and Wales to Sligo to discuss the many challenges posed by Brexit," he told The Sligo Champion.

Senator Feighan said the reason Sligo was chosen this year was for its close proximity to the border.

"We want to show them the difficulties to the Border area if Brexit happens," he said.

"The need to protect our regional economy will be at the top of my agenda for the March conference," he said.

The Taoiseach often addresses the Assembly but it's not yet known if Leo Varadkar will make an appearance at the Sligo Park Hotel.

There could be up to 70 members of the Assembly present from Sunday 4th to Tuesday 6th March.

The Assembly meets every six months. The last meeting took place in Liverpool and in Kilkenny before that.

The Assembly stems from the Good Friday Agreement and discusses various issues and topics.

The Assembly is co-chaired by Irish Sinn Féin TD Sean Crowe and British Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell, who Senator Feighan says is pro-Brexit.

"We've had some interesting meetings, they've been robust. But the camaraderie is incredible," he added.

The event will also provide an opportunity to showcase Sligo - on the first evening members usually dine at a local restaurant to sample the local cuisine.

Sligo/Leitrim Deputy Tony McLoughlin has also welcomed the news: "As we move into the next phase of Brexit talks, it is fitting that the event is held in a border area which will provide a valuable forum for discussing matters of mutual interest and concern.

"We are committed to building a sustainable future for our communities, and in the context of Brexit, it is crucial that we maintain a close relationship with our partners in the UK.

"I look forward to welcoming them to Sligo," he added.

Sligo Champion