There have been 47 plenary sessions of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly and its predecessor body since 1990. They usually take place in Ireland or GB. Many Taoisigh have addressed the meeting and underlined their support for its work. But never has a British Prime Minister done the same.
Being in London it would have been a golden opportunity for the British PM, David Cameron to break the mould. Or Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister with formal responsibility for the work of the British-Irish Council could have stepped into the breach.
Parliamentarians from both sides of the sea and from various parties told me that they were deeply disappointed that neither man had found
the time to attend. Must do better next time.
Gary Kent is a graduate of international relations. After spells in management in British Rail and the Co-Op he began work in parliament in 1987 where he was active for two decades on Anglo-Irish peace activity against terrorism and now as secretary of the all-party parliamentary group on the Kurdistan Region in Iraq, which he has visited 27 times since 2006. He used to be a columnist for Fortnight Magazine and writes a regular column for the Kurdish Rudaw outlet and many other publications.