The long slow grind of north south co-operation…

I’d been working on a review of the last ten years for tomorrow’s News Letter this morning, so I hadn’t got to open my copy of the Irish Times before Brian kindly pointed me in the direction of Elaine Byrne’s article on the ways in which Northern Ireland’s politicians are making an impact on the Republic’s governmental policy:

Mattie “drink is a relaxant and helps nervous drivers” McGrath was a leading figure in the Fianna Fáil backbencher revolt last October over proposals for new drink-driving limits. Brian Cowen’s statement that legislation on alcohol limits would only be introduced in conjunction with Northern Ireland was gleefully interpreted by McGrath as “kicking to touch” the legislation.

The Fianna Fáil backbencher did not anticipate the immediate intervention by DUP Minister for the Environment Edwin Poots, on Morning Ireland, promising that new drink-driving limits would be in place in Northern Ireland early next year. Some months previously, Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey, had met Poots at the North-South Ministerial Council (NSMC) where they discussed the harmonisation of drink-driving limits and the mutual recognition of driving disqualifications.

But how far a North-South Parliamentary Forum would get when there is already an islands’ wide British Irish Parliamentary Assembly in train is hard to say… With austerity times coming in fast in both jurisdictions, it’s likely to be an either/or proposition rather than both…

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty