Work of Committees
Committee A: Sovereign
As in previous years when
general elections took place, Committee A found its work necessarily
disrupted by the process of re-establishing the British membership
following the election in May. Consequently the Committee met
formally on only three occasions during the year, twice during
plenary sessions and once on a working visit.
The Committee reported
to the Bundoran Plenary on its visit to Dublin in December 2004
to meet with the Human Rights Commission. This followed its meeting
with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission in Belfast October
At its meeting during
the Bundoran plenary, the Committee decided to undertake an inquiry
into the implications of the introduction of the British Identity
Cards Bill for the Common Travel Area between the UK and Ireland.
The Committee later received memoranda on the subject from both
The Committee met next
on a visit to Belfast on 24 October to assess the general political
situation. The Committee met the Secretary of State for Northern
Ireland, Rt Hon Peter Hain MP, the PSNI Chief Constable, Sir Hugh
Orde, Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan, and representatives of the
Equality Commission, the Community Relations Council and the NI
At its meeting during
the Edinburgh plenary in November, the Committee considered the
memoranda submitted by the two Governments on the implications
of the Identity Cards Bill and resolved to pursue the matter further
with meetings with the relevant Ministers. The Committee also
considered how it might best respond to the Steering Committee's
request that Committees conduct inquiries relevant to the pockets
of economic deprivation which exist in Northern Ireland, in addition
to continuing with its general monitoring role in respect of the
political and security situation in Northern Ireland. It was proposed
that, on completion of the ID Cards Inquiry, the Committee might
look at barriers to trade across the border.
At Edinburgh the Committee
also discussed the lack of progress on the mutual recognition
of penalty points since their report to the Chepstow Plenary in
October 2003. Concluding that very little progress had been in
the intervening period, the Committee brought forward an emergency
motion to the plenary session, which was passed, noting "that
it [was] two years since the submission by Committee A of the
report of mutual recognition of penalty points and [expressing]
its concern that no action appear[ed] to have been taken by the
two Governments." The Rapporteurs to the Committee (Lord
Dubs and Senator Hayes) agreed to request an update from their
Attendance at Meetings of Committee
A in 2005
March 2005, Bundoran: Jim
O'Keeffe TD (Chairman), Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, Lord
Dubs, Andrew Mackinlay MP, Senator Martin Mansergh, Lord Smith
of Clifton, Senator Brian Hayes, John Carty TD.
Monday 24th October 2005, Belfast:
Pat Carey, TD (Co-chair, BIIPB), Jim O'Keefe TD (Chairman),
Baroness Blood, John Carty TD, Lord Dubs, Senator Brian Hayes,
Senator Martin Mansergh, Liz O'Donnell TD, Lord Smith of Clifton.
November 2005, Edinburgh:.
Jim O'Keefe TD (Chairman), Mr Michael Mates MP (Shadow
Chairman), Baroness Blood, Lord
Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, John Carty TD,
Lord Dubs, Mr Dominic Grieve MP, Senator Brian Hayes, Andrew Mackinlay
MP, Senator Martin Mansergh, Senator Brendan Ryan, Lord Smith
Committee B: European
The full Committee held two formal meetings in 2005,
both during the Bodys Plenaries; in addition, the sub-committee,
(set up in 2004 to inquire into European Funding Programmes
and Developing Understanding Across Borders), held two meetings,
and members of the Committee took part in an informal meeting
during the Edinburgh Plenary.
During its meetings in Brussels and in Copenhagen,
the sub-committee again utilised video-conferencing to enable
Members to participate in meetings which they would not have otherwise
been able to. The sub-committees inquiry was completed in time
for a Report from the full Committee to be debated at the Bundoran
Plenary in March 2005, with the Irish Government's response available
at the Edinburgh Plenary.
At Edinburgh, members of the Committee attended a
meeting with Inishowen Rural Development Limited (IRDL) and the
Irish Central Border Area Network (ICBAN). The two organisations
submitted a presentation on the challenges and opportunities they
face in relation to CO-OPERATION, the successor programme to INTERREG.
Drawing on a "report back" by those Members attending
this meeting, the Committee agreed a Report on The CO-OPERATION
Programme the following day, which was reported to, and debated
by, the Body within hours of it being agreed.
Due to the continuing uncertainty over the fate of
the Polish Government, and of the General Election in the United
Kingdom, the inquiry into A Common European Defence and Foreign
Policy did not progress any further. However, the Committee
does intend to continue with this inquiry in 2006.
At the request of the Steering Committee, the Committee
will also undertake an inquiry, to be completed during 2006, into
Economic Deprivation in Northern Ireland. The inquiry will
concentrate on European funding programmes - in particular, why
it seems to be the case that people and organisations in unionist
areas are less likely to apply for EU funds than those in nationalist
Attendance at meetings of Committee
B in 2005
Monday 7 March, Bundoran:
Senator Francis OBrien (called to the Chair in the absence of
the Chairman); Rt Hon the Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville; Mrs
Margaret Ewing MSP; Mr Michael German AM; Mr Kevin McNamara MP;
Senator Paschal Mooney; Senator Diarmuid Wilson.
Tuesday 29 November, Edinburgh:
Rt Hon Andrew Mackay MP (in the Chair); Mr Séamus Pattison
TD (Vice-Chairman); Mr Damien English TD; Baroness Goudie; Miss
Julie Kirkbride MP; Senator Paschal Mooney; Mr Murray Tosh MSP;
Senator Diarmuid Wilson. At the invitation of the Chairman, Mr
Jim Dobbin MP attended also.
Committee D met formally as a full Committee on four
occasions during the year, twice during plenary sessions, once
in Committee working on report and once on a working visit.
The Committee's primary interest during 2005 was
the completion of their inquiry into Special Educational Needs.
The Committee visited a school for autistic children in Barnsley
in early 2005. The report was debated and formally adopted at
the Bundoran plenary in March. The Committee also presented a
report at that plenary on Truth and Reconciliation. The report
on Special Educational Needs was publicised in June and received
coverage in specialist magazines and the broadsheet press. Following
the inquiry, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Science
invited members of Committee D to give evidence; Jeff Ennis MP
travelled to Dublin to join Senator O'Rourke and Jim Glennon TD
to give evidence. The Education and Skills Select Committee in
the House of Commons also began an inquiry into this subject on
the recommendation from Committee D member Jeff Ennis MP.
The British General Election prevented the Committee
from meeting until the Edinburgh plenary in November. In Edinburgh,
the Committee heard evidence from the Federation of Irish Communities
following which a debate was held at the Plenary. The Committee
decided to conduct a new inquiry into life chances for young people
from the economically deprived areas of Belfast, and commenced
taking evidence early in 2006. The subsequent inquiry will investigate
some of the issues facing the Irish community in Britain.
Attendance at meetings of Committee
D in 2005
Barnsley, 10 January 2005
Kevin McNamara (Chair), Senator Mary O'Rourke
(Co-Chair), Jeff Ennis MP, Chris Ruane MP, Joe Sherlock TD and
Iain Smith MSP.
Westminster, 21 February 2005
Mr Kevin McNamara MP (Chair), Mr Jeff Ennis MP, Senator Geraldine
Feeney, Mr Jim Glennon TD, Senator Michael McCarthy and Mr Iain
Bundoran, Co Donegal, 8th March 2005
Mr Kevin NcNamara MP (Chair), Mr Johnny Brady TD, Mr Tony
Brown MHK, Senator Paul Coughlan (Substitute), Mr Jeff Ennis MP,
Deputy Maurice Dubras, Dr Dai Lloyd AM, Mr Chris Ruane, Mr Joe
Sherlock TD and Mr Iain Smith MSP.
Edinburgh, 28th November 2005
Lord Dubs (Chair), Mr Johnny Brady TD, Mr Tony Brown MHK,
Mr Jeff Ennis MP, Mr Jim Glennon TD, Senator Terry Leyden, Dr
Dai Lloyd AM, Mr Arthur Morgan TD, Mr Chris Ruane MP, Mr Joe Sherlock
TD, Mr Iain Smith MSP, Mr John Austin MP(Substitute) and Senator
Paul Coughlan (Substitute).