By James Ward, PA
The first meeting of the Irish-British Intergovernmental Conference in two years is to take place in June.
It follows a meeting between Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Northern Ireland Secretary of State Brandon Lewis in Dublin on Wednesday.
In a joint statement following the meeting, the men reaffirmed their commitment to upholding the Good Friday Agreement.
— Northern Ireland Office (@NIOgov) May 5, 2021
The statement read: “Today we met to discuss a range of issues. We agreed on the need to work together in close partnership to protect and uphold all aspects of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement in all circumstances.
“We have also agreed to convene a meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference in June, to discuss matters of mutual interest within the competence of both governments as the Agreement intended.
“We are aware that there are sincerely held concerns in different communities in Northern Ireland in relation to a number of issues and firmly agree that the best way forward is through dialogue and engagement.
Very productive North South Ministerial Council meeting with @NicholaMallon & @DUPleader this afternoon. Among other things we discussed our all island strategic rail review, how greenways can work for rural areas & how we can co-operate on climate & transport. #intothewest #NSMC pic.twitter.com/r32NOgr9QX
— Eamon Ryan (@EamonRyan) May 5, 2021
“We recognise the responsibility we all bear to enhance the confidence of everyone in Northern Ireland in all the institutions of the Agreement to help realise its vision for reconciliation, equality, respect for rights and parity of esteem.”
Elsewhere, outgoing DUP leader Arlene Foster attended a meeting of the North South Ministerial Council, alongside Infrastructure Minister and SDLP deputy leader Nichola Mallon.
They met Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan, who described the meeting as “very productive”.
The DUP were criticised by Opposition parties for their failure to attend recent council meetings.