30/11/2001

Ahern and Blair in Dublin for second British-Irish Council summit

Tony Blair and Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern have held talks in Dublin alongside the First Ministers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It is the second such meeting of the British-Irish Council meeting since the signing of the Belfast Agreement in 1998. The first was held in London in December 1999, but plans for follow-up sessions had to be postponed because the Northern Ireland peace process stalled.

The meeting on Friday November 30 involved Tony Blair, Bertie Ahern, deputy Irish premier Mary Harney and Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid, Northern Ireland First Minister David Trimble and Deputy First Minister Mark Durkan.

The summit was a first for new Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell, who was joined by his Welsh counterpart Rhodri Morgan and representatives from the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey.

The summit was followed later by a meeting of the north-south ministerial council between the British and Irish representatives

The main summit concentrated primarily on the drugs menace and ways of combating trafficking practices in Britain and Ireland. But Irish outrage at the proposed new mixed oxide plant at Sellafield was also discussed. Dublin has already signalled its intention to take legal action against the MOX facility and has backed other courtroom moves to get it stopped.

The second of today’s meetings will involve the entire Irish government team and the full Northern Ireland Executive. (AMcE)

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