28/02/2008

Unionist Participation Sought For 'Incomplete' British-Irish Body

The Irish parliamentarian who chairs a controversial body set up under the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement has renewed an appeal to Unionists to reconsider their refusal to join the group.

Irish TD Niall Blaney said it was "incomplete" without unionists and asked the DUP and the Ulster Unionists to submit proposals to 'rebrand' the British Irish Interparliamentary Body.

Mr Blaney has been in Belfast this week meeting the DUP's Peter Robinson and Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey.

Both unionists parties have refused to take part in the body since its inception in 1990 although Peter Robinson ended his party's boycott in 2006 when he agreed to address it in Killarney.

The 50-strong body comprises TDs, MPs and representatives from Stormont, Edinbugh, Cardiff, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

Mr Blaney said the body needs unionists on board to be more effective.

He has invited proposals from unionists on a name change and a significant change in direction away from Northern Ireland politics.

He has suggested a new body could focus on tourism, and shadow the British-Irish Council's work on issues such as drug abuse.

(BMcC)






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