In a lengthy article on the state of the
nation Process, in the Irish Times Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has this to say on the much publicised commitment on participation of Northern Irish MPs in the Dáil – more publicity here –
There has been much exaggerated comment on this point. What we have in mind is sensible but modest. It would not involve speaking rights or privileges in the Dáil, but rather facilitate committee discussions with Northern MPs on matters relating to Northern Ireland and the Good Friday agreement.
He goes on to say, on this particular issue –
It would also be consistent with Seanad reform that has been discussed for many years. Most importantly, nothing that I would propose will cut across the architecture of the agreement. It can moreover complement the North-South parliamentary forum under the agreement, which we hope to see established soon.
The British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body is already in existence and thriving. There is also a distinguished history of Northern appointees to the Seanad to build on.
This is ultimately a matter for the Oireachtas and I will make my proposals directly to all of the other party leaders in September.
I’d suggest those proposals will be carefully scrutinised by several parties.