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Karen Bradley MP Column 22.05.23

As well as representing Staffordshire Moorlands in Parliament it is a great honour to have been elected and chosen to Chair and Co-chair some important Parliamentary Committees and Organisations.

One of these is BIPA – the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Assembly – which I was proud and honoured to have been appointed to Co-Chair by Mr Speaker. The history of this Assembly is significant and it played a key role in the peace process and ongoing understanding between the UK and Ireland.

In 1990, during the Troubles, which were affecting all parts of the British Isles, the British Group of the Inter Parliamentary Union and its Irish counterpart were asked to look into how relations between Westminster and the Oireachtas could be improved. This led to the establishment of the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body, made up of parliamentarians from both parliaments.

People meetings, getting to know one another and seeing how all parts of our islands were desperate for peace, helped to create the atmosphere in which the parties in Northern Ireland could start talking to one another which ultimately led to the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. The Board was so important to the process that it was given a statutory basis in the Northern Ireland Act of 1998.

In 2001 the membership was extended to include the devolved parliaments and the Crown Dependencies and in 2008 was renamed the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly. BIPA holds twice yearly plenary meetings to help foster better relations and to discuss the many issues that we have in common.

Last week, having hosted a great coach trip from the Moorlands to Parliament, it was off to Jersey to join my Co-chair Brendan Smith TD and other Parliamentarians for the 64th Plenary Conference of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly.

It was real pleasure to be in Jersey and welcome my BIPA friends and colleagues.

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