Work of Committees
Committee on Sovereign Matters.
1. In common with other Committees, Committee A found its
work necessarily disrupted by the UK general election in June,
and the consequent need to reestablish the Committee in the second
part of the year. Nevertheless it met formally on three occasions
during the year, twice during plenary sessions and once on a working
2. In February, the Committee undertook a visit to Larne and
Belfast to inquire into the rise in sectarian harassment and attacks.
The committee met the Chief Constable of the RUC, Sir Ronnie Flanagan,
and representatives of Unionist parties, the SDLP and Sinn Féin.
During the course of the latter meetings the Committee had the
opportunity to meet and talk to victims of the attacks themselves.
The Committee also took the opportunity to meet officials from
the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat.
3. The Committee met at the Killarney Plenary later in February,
and the Shadow Chairman reported orally to the Plenary on the
Committee's work. No further meetings were possible until the
Bournemouth Plenary in November, at which the Committee decided
to examine the possibility of a visit to Belfast early in 2002
to examine progress in the establishment of the new Northern Ireland
Attendance at Meetings of Committee A
Thursday 15th and Friday 16th February 2001, Belfast and Larne:
Mr Brian Hayes TD (Chairman), Dr Norman Godman MP (Shadow Chairman),
Senator Helen Keogh, Mr Sean Doherty TD (for Mr. Tony Killeen
TD), Dr Rory O'Hanlon TD, Mr John McWilliam MP (for Mr Dennis
Tuesday 27th February 2001, Killarney: Dr
Norman Godman MP (Acting Chairman), Rt Hon Peter Brooke MP, Senator
Helen Keogh, Mr Tony Killeen TD, Mr Dinny
McGinley TD, Mr Michael Mates MP, Lord Smith of Clifton.
Tuesday 4th December 2001, Bournemouth: Michael
Mates MP (Acting Chairman), Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville,
John Browne TD (for Mr. Dinny McGinley TD), Lord Dubs, Senator
Helen Keogh, Andrew Mackinlay MP.
European Affairs Committee
1. The Committee continued its inquiry into transport links
between Ireland and Great Britain. This has been a broad-ranging
look at links between the two islands by air and sea as well as
road and rail links to ports and airports. Issues examined have
included the impact of differential fuel duties, north and south
of the Irish Border; the prospects for the expansion of air traffic;
the need for further investment in road and rail links and the
possibility of opening up new routes for Irish freight across
Britain and on to continental Europe.
2. The inquiry has also provided an opportunity to study how
the new devolved arrangements within the UK are working in practice,
the extent of liaison between devolved, national and European
levels on transport matters, and input from the Republic at each
of these levels.
3. In November 2000 the Committee had explored these issues
in a visit to Edinburgh at which it met Sarah Boyack MSP, Minister
of Transport in the Scottish Executive, and the Transport and
Environment Committee of the Scottish Parliament. In February
2001 the Committee made a similar visit to Cardiff at which it
met Ms Sue Essex AM, Minister of Transport in the National Assembly
for Wales, and Assembly officials.
4. The Committee hoped to visit Northern Ireland, to meet
the Regional Development Minister (responsible for transport),
Mr Gregory Campbell MLA, and the Regional Development Committee
of the Northern Ireland Assembly. Despite repeated approaches,
however, this visit could not be arranged, largely because of
political problems. Mr Campbell let it be known that, in accord
with the policy of his party, the DUP, he was unwilling to meet
with a committee of the Body. Likewise, the Ulster Unionist Party
members of the Regional Development Committee were reluctant to
meet with Committee B given the party's policy of non-participation
in the Body. The SDLP chair of the committee, Mr Alban McGuinness
MLA, indicated that, while he personally supported a meeting,
he wished to proceed only on the basis of consensus within his
5. Committee B next met during the Plenary in Killarney in
March 2000. At this meeting it was decided that the Committee
would not meet again until after the UK general election, which
was thought to be imminent.
6. In the event the election was not held till June, and the
British side of the Committee was not renominated till November.
The next meeting of the Committee was therefore held at the Bournemouth
Plenary in December. At this meeting Sir Brian Mawhinney MP took
the Chair for the first time, in succession to Mr Robert Jackson
MP (who had ceased to be a member of the Body).
7. During the period in which Committee activities were in
abeyance, further written evidence relating to transport links
was gathered by the Committee secretariat. At the December meeting
the Committee decided to resume the transport inquiry, with a
view to presenting a report to the Dublin Plenary in Spring 2002.
The Committee also reaffirmed its wish to meet the Regional Development
Committee, either in Belfast or in a 'neutral venue' elsewhere.
Attendance at Meetings of Committee B
Monday 12 February 2001, National Assembly for
Wales, Cardiff: Mr Austin Currie TD (Vice-Chairman);
Mr Harry Barnes MP; Mr Seymour Crawford TD; Mr John Ellis TD;
Mr Dominic Grieve MP; Senator Mary Henry; Senator Paschal Mooney;
Mr Peter Temple-Morris MP.
Tuesday 27 February 2001, Killarney:
Mr Austin Currie TD (Vice-Chairman); Mr Harry Barnes MP; Mr Seymour
Crawford TD; Mr John Ellis TD; Mr Dominic Grieve MP; Senator Paschal
Mooney; Mr Peter Temple-Morris MP.
Tuesday 4 December 2001, Bournemouth:
Sir Brian Mawhinney MP (Chairman); Mr Austin Currie TD (Vice-Chairman);
Mr John Ellis TD; Margaret Ewing MSP; Senator Mary Henry; Mr Elfyn
Llwyd MP; Senator Paschal Mooney; Lord Temple-Morris.
1. In 2001 the Committee met on three occasions, one of which
involved a visit to Northern Ireland. It was unable to complete
its inquiry on Tourism before the Dissolution of the House of
Commons in May.
2. The Committee visited Northern Ireland on 17-18 January.
Discussions were held in Belfast with officials from the Department
of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and from the Northern Ireland
Tourist Board. The Committee gathered a great deal of useful information
on the importance of tourism to the economy of Northern Ireland.
Issues discussed included the provision of support from the EU;
grants for hotel construction and the impact of the different
VAT rates north and south of the border. The role of the new publicly-owned
company Tourism Ireland Ltd. was also raised. After a meeting
with the International Fund for Ireland, the committee visited
a number of tourism projects in Belfast. Dame Mary Peters, Deputy
Chairman of the NITB, hosted a dinner for the committee at which
representatives from Tourism Ireland Ltd, the Northern Ireland
Hotels Federation and the National Trust were present. On Thursday,
18 January, the Committee looked at examples of tourism infrastructure
along the Antrim coast.
3. At the meeting at the Killarney Plenary on 27th February,
the Committee reviewed progress on the tourism inquiry. A decision
was taken to maintain the restricted scope of the inquiry; it
would focus on North-South issues. The Committee had intended
to meet again in Dublin with officials from the Department of
Tourism and Sport, academics working on tourism and representatives
of the regional tourist bodies, but before it could do so the
United Kingdom general election intervened.
4. The first meeting of the Committee after
the general election took place during the Plenary Session in
Bournemouth. On 4th December, the Committee decided to complete
its inquiry into tourism. It was agreed:
- to arrange a meeting with Bord Fáilte;
- to seek further submissions from the NI Tourist
Board, regional tourism agencies, with particular focus on cross-border
- to seek submissions from relevant transport operators.
It was envisaged the Committee would meet in
Dublin before the end of January, and the Clerks were asked to
circulate copies of the previous Reports on Tourism and on Road
and Rail Links in the Island of Ireland.
5. At that meeting Mr Bellingham raised the possibility
of an inquiry into the impact of economic distortions on cross-Border
trade. It was agreed that the matter would be put on the agenda
when the Committee was reconstituted after the forthcoming Irish
Attendance at meetings of Committee C
Meeting in Belfast, 17/18th January 2001:
Mr Séamus Kirk TD (Chairman), Mr William O'Brien MP (Vice-Chairman),
Mr Andrew Boylan TD, Mr Jeff Ennis MP, Ms Cecilia Keaveney TD,
Mr Brian O'Shea TD, Mr Brendan Smith TD.
Meeting in Killarney, 27th February 2001:
Mr Séamus Kirk TD (Chairman), Lord Dubs, Mr Jeff Ennis
MP, Mr Brian O'Shea TD.
Meeting in Bournemouth, 4th December 2001: Mr
Séamus Kirk (Chair), Mr Bill O'Brien (Shadow Chair), Mr
Harry Barnes MP, Mr Henry Bellingham MP, Mr Andrew Boylan TD,
Mr Tony Coleman MP (Associate), Ms Cecilia Keaveney TD, Mr David
McLetchie MSP and Mr Brian O'Shea TD.
Environmental and Social Committee
1. The beginning of 2001 saw Committee D continuing its enquiry
into "The cultural significance of parades". At the
October 2000 Plenary in Galway the Committee had agreed to visit
Kilkeel and Donegal to meet with representatives of the Ancient
Order of Hibernians and the Orange Order, and also to make a further
visit to examine the cultural significance of parades in Great
Britain. In the event the Orange Order in Donegal refused to meet
the Committee, so on 17 January the Committee visited Newry to
meet representatives of the AOH Board of Erin, including the National
President, Brother Gene Lambe. The frank discussion that followed
covered both general issues to do with parading culture, and also
the specific problems associated with the AOH parade in nearby
2. The Committee followed this up with a visit on 29 January
to Glasgow, where it proved possible to meet representatives of
the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland, led by the Grand Master, Ian
Wilson. The Committee also met the AOH Provincial Board of Scotland,
led by its President, Gerry O'Connor. Both meetings cast valuable
light on the social pressures affecting the parading orders in
Scotland, and on the very different parading culture that prevails
3. The Committee agreed its Report in London on 12 February,
and presented the Report to the February 2001 Plenary in Killarney,
where it was debated. Responses were subsequently received from
both Governments, which were in turn debated at the December 2001
Plenary in Bournemouth.
4. The work of the Committee after the February Plenary was
impeded first by the foot-and-mouth crisis, and then by the British
general election. However, the Committee was able to respond to
an approach from Professor Neil Collins, Director of the Graduate
School in Business and Government at University College Cork,
concerning the links in higher education across the islands. The
Chairman wrote to education ministers in each of the jurisdictions,
asking them about their policies on encouraging such links, and
on the participation of civil servants in courses designed to
promote understanding of inter-governmental issues and regional
development. Answers have been received from all the jurisdictions,
and will be brought together in a short report.
5. The Committee met with a new membership at the December
Plenary in Bournemouth, and agreed that its next enquiry should
focus on the Sellafield nuclear power station. The Committee is
particularly concerned at the security implications of the terrorist
outrages of 11 September, and hopes to find reassurance that appropriate
responses have been made. A visit to the site is proposed for
the end of January 2002.
Attendance at meetings of Committee D
Visit to Newry, 17 January 2001:
Ms Jean Corston MP, Senator Edward Haughey, Mr Brendan McGahon
TD, Ms Marian McGennis TD, Mr Kevin McNamara MP
Visit to Glasgow, 29 January 2001:
Mr Conor Lenihan TD, Mr John McFall MP, Mr Brendan McGahon TD,
Ms Marian McGennis TD, Mr Kevin McNamara MP
London, Portcullis House, 12 February 2001: Mr
Conor Lenihan TD, Ms Marian McGennis TD, Mr Kevin McNamara MP,
Mr Lembit Öpik MP
Killarney Park Hotel, 27 February 2001:
Ms Jean Corston MP, Mr Conor Lenihan TD, Mr Brendan McGahon TD,
Mr Kevin McNamara MP
Marriott Highcliff Hotel, Bournemouth, 4 December
2001: Mr John Battle MP, Mr Geoff Ennis
MP, The Lord Glentoran, Ms Carmel Hanna MLA, Mr Brian Hayes TD,
Mr Conor Lenihan TD, Dr Dai Lloyd AM, Mr Brendan McGahon TD, Ms
Marian McGennis TD, Mr Iain Smith MSP.