Fifth Annual Report



APPENDIX 3

Work of Committees

Committee A

Committee on Sovereign Matters (changed from Political and Security Committee)

1.  As in previous years, Committee A continued during 2000 to undertake a general monitoring role regarding political and security matters in Northern Ireland. The Committee met formally on five occasions, three times as part of working visits and twice during plenary sessions.

2.  The Committee met at the London Plenary in February, and the Chairman reported orally to the Plenary on the Committee's work. At that meeting it was decided to seek a meeting with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning; and the meeting took place in March. The Committee and Commission discussed the events which had taken place earlier that year and the prospects for the decommissioning of weapons by the various paramilitary groups. During the same visit, the Committee had a meeting with RUC officers involved in a community policing scheme in the Markets area of Belfast. It also discussed with the Northern Ireland Police Authority developments in policing in Northern Ireland, including particularly the implications of the Patten report.

3.  In April, the Committee visited Northern Ireland again, this time once again to focus on the issue of demilitarisation/normalisation. Members went to South Armagh, where they had the opportunity to see some of the military installations which remain in the area, and had discussions in Crossmaglen with local councillors from both the SDLP and Sinn Féin. The Committee then went on to Belfast, where they had a meeting with Sir Ronnie Flanagan, Chief Constable of the RUC. Discussions ranged over the general security situation in Northern Ireland, the implications of the Patten Report, and other matters related to the Committee's remit.

4.   The Chairman of the Committee, Mr Charles Flanagan TD, resigned from the Committee at the Plenary in Galway in September in order to take up new duties in the Dáil. He was succeeded by Mr Brian Hayes, TD. Mr Hayes continued at the Galway plenary the practice of reporting orally to the Body on the Committee's work.

5.   Following the meeting of the Committee at the Galway plenary, a further visit was undertaken in November, chiefly to discuss issues relating to parades. After a meeting with the Parades Commission, the Committee lunched with Brian Currin, Chairman of the Northern Ireland Sentences Review Commission, who had been acting as a mediator in respect of the parties concerned with the Drumcree parade. The Committee then travelled to Portadown, where they discussed matters concerning that parade both with representatives of the local Orange Order and with representatives of the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition. The Committee stayed overnight in Derry.

6.   The following day, the Committee called on the Mayor of Derry, Councillor Cathal Crumley, and was able to pay brief visits to the venue of the tribunal of inquiry into the events of 'Bloody Sunday', and to the Bloody Sunday Centre nearby. The Committee then had a discussion with Paul O'Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre, which is concerned with the defence of human rights in Northern Ireland, and a briefing from local members of the security forces. Finally, the Committee met Adam Ingram, MP, Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office, and discussed with him various matters relating to the political and security situation in Northern Ireland.

7.   The Committee hopes that its Chairman, Mr Brian Hayes TD, will be able to provide the plenary with an oral report of its continuing work at the plenary session in Killarney in February.

Attendance at Meetings of Committee A in 2000


Monday 14 February 2000, Church House, Westminster: Mr Charles Flanagan TD (Chairman), Dr Norman Godman MP (Vice-Chairman), Rt Hon Peter Brooke, MP, Mr Dennis Canavan MP, Senator Joe Costello, Senator Helen Keogh, Mr Tony Killeen TD, Mr Dinny McGinley TD, Mr Michael Mates MP, Dr Rory O'Hanlon TD.

Monday 13th March 2000, Belfast: Mr Charles Flanagan TD (Chairman), Dr Norman Godman MP (Vice-Chairman), Rt Hon Peter Brooke, MP, Mr Dennis Canavan MP, Senator Joe Costello, Dr Rory O'Hanlon TD.

Monday 17th April 2000, Crossmaglen and Belfast: Mr Charles Flanagan TD (Chairman), Dr Norman Godman MP (Vice-Chairman), Mr Dennis Canavan, Mr Tony Killeen TD , Dr Rory O'Hanlon TD, Mr John McWilliam (for Mr Dennis Canavan), Lord Alderdice (in Belfast) (for Lord Redesdale).

Tuesday 10 October 2000, Galway: Mr Brian Hayes TD (Chairman), Rt Hon Peter Brooke MP, Mr Dinny McGinley TD, Mr Michael Mates MP.

Thursday 9th and Friday 10th November 2000, Belfast, Portadown and Derry: Dr Norman Godman MP (Acting Chairman), Senator Helen Keogh, Mr Tony Killeen TD, Mr Dinny McGinley TD, Mr John McWilliam MP (for Mr Dennis Canavan).

Committee B

European Affairs Committee (changed from European and International Affairs Committee)

1.  The Committee's programme this year was overshadowed by the tragic death of its Chairman, Mr Michael Colvin MP, with his wife Nichola, on 24 February. Mr Robert Jackson MP was in due course appointed Chairman in Mr Colvin's place.

2.  During 2000 the Committee held five meetings (two in Ireland, two in London and one in Scotland).

3.  The Committee's principal inquiry was into transport to and from the island of Ireland. This was a broad-ranging inquiry dealing with transport connections by air, sea and land, both for passengers and freight.

4.  In connection with this inquiry the Committee took initial evidence at Leinster House, Dublin, on 31 January, from civil servants of the Department of Public Enterprise (dealing with aviation and road haulage matters) and of the Department of the Marine and Natural Resources (dealing with maritime transport), as well as from representatives of the Irish Business Employers' Confederation. On 14 February the Committee met during the London Plenary at Church House, Westminster and discussed the future of the inquiry. On 12 April the Committee met at the House of Commons and took evidence from officials of the Department of the Environment and from representatives of the Confederation of British Industry. On 10 October the Committee met at the Galway Plenary. On 26 November the Committee met in Edinburgh and held informal discussions with the Irish Consul-General, Mr Dan Mulhall. The following day the Committee met in Leith, and took evidence from the Scottish Minister for Transport, Ms Sarah Boyack, and officials of the Scottish Executive, as well as from representatives of the Freight Transport Association and Dumfries and Galloway Council. The Committee then visited the Scottish Parliament and held discussions with its Transport and Environment Committee.

5.  Further meetings in connection with the transport inquiry are planned, including visits to the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff and the Northern Ireland Assembly in Belfast.

Attendance at meetings of Committee B in 2000

Monday 31 January 2000, Leinster House, Dublin: Mr Michael Colvin MP (in the Chair); Mr Austin Currie TD (Vice-Chairman); Mr Harry Barnes MP; Mr Seymour Crawford TD; Mr John Ellis TD; Senator Mary Henry; Ms Geraldine Smith MP; Mr Peter Temple-Morris MP.

Monday 14 February 2000, Church House, Westminster: Mr Michael Colvin MP (in the Chair); Mr Austin Currie TD (Vice-Chairman); Mr Harry Barnes MP; Mr Gerry Bermingham MP; Mr Seymour Crawford TD; Mr John Ellis TD; Senator Mary Henry; Mr Robert Jackson MP; Senator Paschal Mooney; Ms Geraldine Smith MP; Mr Peter Temple-Morris MP.

Wednesday 12 April 2000, 1 Parliament Street, Westminster: Mr Austin Currie TD (Vice-Chairman, called to the Chair); Mr Harry Barnes MP; Mrs Mary Coughlan TD; Mr Seymour Crawford TD; Mr John Ellis TD; Mr Robert Jackson MP; Senator Paschal Mooney; Ms Geraldine Smith MP; Mr Peter Temple-Morris MP.

Tuesday 10 October 2000, Galway: Mr Robert Jackson MP (in the Chair); Mr Austin Currie TD (Vice-Chairman); Mr Harry Barnes MP; Mr Gerry Bermingham MP; Mrs Mary Coughlin TD; Mr Seymour Crawford TD; Mr John Ellis TD; Mr Dominic Grieve MP; Senator Mary Henry; Senator Paschal Mooney; Mr Peter Temple-Morris MP.

Monday 27 November 2000, Scottish Executive offices, Leith (morning), Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh (afternoon): Mr Robert Jackson MP (in the Chair); Mr Austin Currie TD (Vice-Chairman); Mr Harry Barnes MP; Mrs Mary Coughlin TD; Mr Seymour Crawford TD; Mr John Ellis TD; Mr Dominic Grieve MP; Senator Paschal Mooney.


Committee C

Economic Committee (changed from Economic and Social Affairs Committee)

1.  In 2000 the Committee met on three occasions, made one visit to Ireland and completed one Report.

2.  The Committee met on 14th February to agree its report on the Role of Small Farms in the Rural Economy. The Report was debated at the London Plenary and adopted by the Body. In line with usual practice, the Report was then sent to both Governments for their responses, which were debated at the Galway Plenary in September.

3.  At the meeting on 14th February, the Committee resolved to conduct an inquiry into the promotion, marketing and development of tourism on the island of Ireland. Following the receipt of written submissions, the Committee visited Co.Cavan on 17th/18th July to hold meetings with Bord Failte Eireann and Waterways Ireland as well as visiting the Shannon-Erne Waterway, an impressive cross-border tourism project. As a result of the discussions held during the visit, and in view of the negotiations underway aimed at establishing cross-border tourism institutions, the Committee decided to change the focus of the inquiry away from the organization of tourism promotion to look instead at the economic role which tourism plays.

4.  The Committee plans to visit Belfast and the Antrim coast in January and to complete its inquiry in time for the Autumn Plenary.

Attendance at meetings of Committee C in 2000

Meeting in London, 14th February 2000: Mr Séamus Kirk TD (Chairman), Mr William O'Brien MP (Vice-Chairman), Lord Blease, Mr Andrew Boylan TD, Maria Fyfe MP, Ms Cecilia Keaveney TD, Sir Brian Mawhinney MP, Mr Michael Ring TD.

Meeting in Co. Cavan, 17/18th July 2000: Mr William O'Brien MP(Vice-Chairman), Mr Joe Benton MP, Mr Andrew Boylan TD, Mr Jeff Ennis MP, Maria Fyfe MP, Ms Cecilia Keaveney TD, Mr Brian O'Shea TD, Mr Brendan Smith TD.

Meeting in Galway, 10th October 2000: Mr William O'Brien MP(Vice-Chairman), Mr Andrew Boylan TD, Maria Fyfe MP, Ms Cecilia Keaveney TD, Sir Brian Mawhinney MP.

Committee D

Environmental and Social Committee (changed from Culture, Education and Environment Committee)

1.  In February 2000 Committee D met in Dublin to agree a report on the Columba Initiative, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and the Warrington Project. This report followed the Committee's 1999 report on Education and Inter-community Relations and was a result of the Committee's desire to investigate in more depth two of the projects which came to their attention in the course of the work for the 1999 report. The second education report was debated at the Plenary in Church House, London on 14th February. On that day, members of the Committee met with the Minister for Education and Employment, the Rt. Hon. David Blunkett MP, to press the case for increased funding for the Warrington Project. This meeting was arranged by Jean Corston MP, a member of Committee D and PPS to the Mr Blunkett. The Minister gave a favourable hearing to the Committee: as a result of this meeting officials from the Department met with representatives of the Project and additional funding was secured.

2.  The Committee decided at the February Plenary that the new subject for enquiry would be "the cultural significance of parades". In July, at the height of the marching season, the Committee made a wide-ranging three day visit to Belfast and Derry to discuss parades. The Committee met with representatives of residents' groups, the Parades Commission, the Apprentice Boys of Derry, academics engaged in research into parades and representatives from the Northern Ireland Office. The Committee also visited the Ulster Folk Museum to see an Orange Lodge which had been rebuilt on the museum site.

3.  At the October Plenary in Galway, the Committee reviewed the progress of the inquiry and agreed to make two further visits, the first to Kilkeel and Donegal to meet with representatives of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Orange Order and the second to Liverpool and Glasgow to examine the cultural significance of parades in Great Britain. It is hoped to present the parades report to the first Plenary session of 2001.

Attendance at meetings of Committee D in 2000

Leinster House, Dublin 1 February 2000: Ms Jean Corston MP, Mr Jimmy Deenihan TD, Mr Conor Lenihan TD, Ms Marian McGennis TD (Vice-Chair) ,Mr Kevin McNamara MP.

Church House, London, 14 February 2000: Ms Jean Corston MP, Mr Jimmy Deenihan TD, Lord Glentoran, Mr Conor Lenihan TD, Ms Marian McGennis TD, Mr Brendan McGahon TD, Mr Kevin McNamara MP, Lord Merlyn-Rees, Mr Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, Mr Lembit Öpik MP

Visit to Belfast and Derry, 3-5 July 2000: Mr Nick Ainger MP, Ms Jane Corston MP, Mr Jimmy Deenihan TD, Mr John McFall MP, Mr Brendan McGahon TD, Ms Marian McGennis TD, Mr Kevin McNamara MP

Galway Bay Hotel, 10 October 2000: Ms Jean Corston MP, Senator Edward Haughey, Mr Conor Lenihan TD, Mr John McFall MP, Mr Kevin McNamara MP

Mr Lembit Öpik MP, Mr Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD.



 
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