The Ulster Unionist Party have come to the shocking realisation that ties between the north and south of this island continue to be strengthened despite the fact that there is no Assembly.
“We are greatly concerned that North South Bodies have gone into mission creep. Internal and external issues were supposed to exist as mutually dependent entities. If the Assembly falls, the North South element should also fall. But regrettably this has not been the case,” says South Antrim MLA Jim Wilson.
“Not only are the organisations formalised under the Belfast Agreement operating beyond a care and maintenance basis, but a substantial sub-strata of north-southery has evolved which is entirely independent and unreflective of the wishes of the people of Northern Ireland.”
But the UUP, who now seem to be operating under the slogan “united Northern Ireland not dividing it”, believe they have the answer:
“That’s why the Ulster Unionist Party has created North South Watch. This gradual expansion of North Southery must be highlighted and challenged,” says Wilson.
North South Watch has so far highlighted the following subversive activity:
“19th December 2005 Northern Ireland Office announce extension of terms of appointment to North/South Body boards (Foyle, Carlingford & Irish Lights Commission; North/South Language Body; Intertrade Ireland; The Food Safety Promotion Board and; Tourism Ireland.
9th February 2006 Department of the Environment and Department for Regional Development announce intention to cooperate with Irish Transport Ministers on driving disqualifications.
17th February 2006 SDLP launch document on calling for increased level of North/South cooperation.
2nd May 2006 Meeting of British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference held at Iveagh House, Dublin. Joint Communiqué informed that the following matters were discussed:
Renewed Political Developments
Current security situation and continuing cooperation between PSNI and An Garda Siochána
A range of issues in relation to Policing, Parades, Loyalism, Inquiries (Hamill, Wright, Nelson, Finucane)
Human Rights, Equality and Human Relations· North/South and East/West matters, including the Northwest region, Northwest Gateway Initiative, Derry/Letterkenny Gateway and the 4 local council areas of Derry, Strabane, Limavady and Donegal.
An examination of the potential for joint investment in key infrastructure projects: Tourism, Skills Training, Further and Higher Education, Business Development, Co-ordination of Public Services etc, etc.
The Conference also:
Reviewed progress on the development of a more competitive and prosperous all-island economy and welcomed the involvement of the business community in this study.
Discussed all-island sustainable energy and development of communications strategy and an all-Ireland free travel scheme.
Noted work to host a cross-border Child Protection Conference
Discussed the recent Review of Public Administration and Review of Quangoes
26th June, 2006 Intertrade Ireland call for funding for high-speed rail link from Belfast to Cork.
28th June, 2006 Ulster Unionists demand the government drops its “Plan B” for enhanced North/South cooperation in the event of Assembly collapse.
13th July, 2006 Rooker, in reply to Lord Kilclooney said: “If the noble Lord is concerned about discussions between the United Kingdom government and the government of the Republic, he will be more worried after 24th November because discussions will deepen.”
25th July, 2006 Meeting of British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference held at Hillsborough. It contained a raft of proposals for enhancing North/South cooperation.
17th August, 2006 Sinn Fein’s Mitchell McLaughlin calls for an all-island strategy on the economy and a single currency.
21st August, 2006 Sinn Fein calls for creation of 9 new cross-border bodies and an expansion of existing organisations. Bodies to deal with:
Pollution Control and
30th August, 2006 Hain announces he and Minister Ahern would carry out a North/South economic audit.
Week commencing 4th September, 2006 Sinn Fein hold meeting in Strasbourg with Transport Commissioner re:
An upgrade of road from Donegal to Dublin.
Sinn Fein proposal for an all-Ireland agriculture policy following a Republic of Ireland announcement of a package of £100k to restructure their milk industry.
4th September, 2006 Ministers Paul Goggins MP and Michael McDowell TD together with Garda Commissioner Noel Murphy, Deputy Commissioner Fachtna Murphy, Deputy Chief Constable Paul Leighton and Assistant Chief Constable Peter Sheridan meet to discuss cross-border cooperation on policing. They expressed confidence that cooperation in cross-border policing “rests on a solid foundation” and agreed to hold further regular meetings.
8th September, 2006 Dermot Ahern’s speech at British-Irish Association had two pages devoted to North/South cooperation. Excerpts as follows:
“We (British and Irish governments) have given our frank assessment that if November passes without agreement, measures must – and will- be taken to prevent any further drift…
“Let me begin by telling you what it won’t be. It won’t be a shelving of the Good Friday Agreement…..the alternative to devolution can only be the fullest implementation of the Agreement by the two governments………The two governments will bring forward partnership arrangements to ensure that the Agreement is actively developed across all its functions……….There will be a step change in North-South cooperation……..We have agreed on this and are prepared to give practical expression to it.
“Greater North-South cooperation is critical to building a prosperous Northern Ireland…….At the last BIIC the Secretary of State and I launched wide-ranging North-South economic initiatives on trade promotion and trade missions….. The facilities of Enterprise Ireland and Invest Northern Ireland overseas offices will be made available to all businesses on the island. These initiatives are just the beginning. We are looking at massive investments in infrastructure on the island of Ireland in the next 10 years – better planning, better outcomes and better value for money. We can achieve more balanced regional development and a prosperous border region … promoting the development of the entire Northwest region.
“We will look at health, education and other public services in border areas and on an all-island basis.
11th September, 2006 Hain and Dermot Ahern met in Dundalk. On the agenda was ongoing work with co-operation on economy.
14th September, 2006 Information from contact in Telecoms:Northern Ireland Office officials looking at possibility of adopting a cross-border approach on telecommunications. Meetings with Ministers have taken place in Dublin, London and Belfast together with senior representatives from the Mobile industry. There is a belief that these discussions could lead to more than addressing cross-border roaming charges.
19th September, 2006 The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Northern Ireland and the Office of the Minister for Health and Children in the Republic of Ireland at round table event organised jointly welcomed moves by governments on both sides of the border to further develop ways to safeguard children.
26th September, 2006 SDLP enterprise spokesperson Sean Farren said after talks in Dublin with the Republic’s Finance Minister Brian Cowen that the Irish Government will make cross-border investment in infrastructure a key feature of its next National Development Plan.
13th/14th October, 2006 The Irish Association Annual Conference – “A new Ireland dealing with change”