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Northern Ireland: Intergovernmental Agreement

Volume 691: debated on Wednesday 9 May 2007

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Peter Hain) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

Following the successful restoration of devolution in Northern Ireland, I am pleased to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with Ireland.

This treaty reaffirms both Governments' commitment to protect, support and, where appropriate, implement the provisions of the Belfast agreement, subject to the alterations to the operation of the institutions agreed at St Andrews. The conditions laid out in legislation for the restoration of the devolved institutions in Northern Ireland have now been met. In this historic context, it is fitting that these commitments are formalised promptly with the Irish Government, and the Government welcome this opportunity to provide a shared understanding of these arrangements across these islands.

This agreement was laid before Parliament as a Command Paper (Cm 7078) on Wednesday 18 April. The tenets of the agreement have been considered by Parliament during the passage of the Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2006 and, following the successful restoration of devolution to Northern Ireland on 8 May, the Government consider it appropriate to truncate the standard 21-day laying period under the Ponsonby rule to ensure that the agreement can be brought into force as soon as possible. This will provide swift formal clarity to the agreed alterations to the arrangements and institutions established by the Belfast agreement of 1998.

Copies of the agreement and its associated Explanatory Memorandum have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses and distributed to members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Public Accounts Committee and the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.