What has happened to Strands 2 and 3?

It was sporting of the Guernsey chief minister to defend the cost of setting out eight delegations in a row for the latest meeting of the British-Irish Council in his lovely island. Especially as the main news to come out of it was that “ marine renewable technology isn’t quite there yet.” 125k is an awful lot of tomatoes. It wasn’t much consolation either when  Biffo gripped the assembled statespersons with the news that neither Irish jurisdiction has figured out a way of hitting motorists who hold the other’s driver’s licence with penalty points. Shouldn’t he have convened a special meeting of the north-south ministerial council to tell them that?

In a move perfectly in accord with the Council’s embarrassing irrelevance comes the news that they’re setting up a secretariat – in Scotland. Might they not have managed an hour or two’s discussion on cross border economic collaboration, the role of both sovereign governments in dealing with the past post-Saville, or even a word of two about the timing of a royal visit? Was it for so little that so much was negotiated by so many in 1998?

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London