Dáil Éireann - Volume 502 - 30 March, 1999

Written Answers. - Northern Ireland Issues.

87. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the time schedule for the establishment of the shadow executive as agreed to in the Good Friday Agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8892/99]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Andrews): As I indicated in my reply to Priority Questions Nos. 1 and 2, it has not proved possible to date to establish the institutions under the Good Friday Agreement, including the shadow executive. Intensive negotiations between the two Governments and the parties are continuing in order to achieve the earliest possible accommodation on the current impasse, thereby enabling the institutions of the Agreement to be established.

88. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the progress made on the Good Friday [1438] Agreement in particular on the North-South implementation bodies. [8893/99]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Andrews): My reply to Priority Questions Nos. 1 and 2 outlines progress in the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement as a whole.

The agreement between the Irish and British Governments on North-South implementation bodies, which was signed by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and myself at Dublin Castle on 8 March 1999, provides for the establishment of bodies in the following six areas: inland waterways; food safety; trade and business development; special EU programmes; language; and aquaculture and marine matters. The bodies will be formally established on the date of the entry into force of the British-Irish Agreement done at Belfast on 10 April 1998, along with the other institutions provided for in that Agreement. The British-Irish Agreement Act, which makes the necessary provision in domestic law for the establishment and operation of the bodies, was signed into law on 22 March. Equivalent British legislation has been enacted at Westminster.

The two Governments, in consultation as appropriate with the Northern Ireland parties, have been urgently taking forward the further steps necessary to enable the bodies to function effectively once they are established. Issues under discussion include the location of the bodies; the identification of possible board members, where boards are involved; the designation of interim Chief Executives, as provided for in the agreement of 8 March; and the secondment of other key staff for the start-up period. The two Departments of Finance, together with the relevant parent Departments, are preparing the detailed financial memoranda for each of the bodies. My colleague, the Minister for Finance, will very shortly be introducing a Supplementary Estimate providing for such additional funding as may be required for the bodies during 1999.