British–Irish Council

The British–Irish Council (BIC) is an intergovernmental organisation that aims to improve collaboration between its members in a number of areas including transport, the environment, and energy.[1] Its membership comprises Ireland, the United Kingdom, the devolved governments of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and the governments of the Crown dependencies of the UK: Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man. England does not have a devolved administration, and as a result is not individually represented on the Council but represented as a member of the UK.[2]

The British and Irish governments, and political parties in Northern Ireland, agreed to form a Council under the British–Irish Agreement, part of the Good Friday Agreement reached in 1998. The Council was formally established on 2 December 1999, when the Agreement came into effect. The Council's stated aim is to "promote the harmonious and mutually beneficial development of the totality of relationships among the peoples of these islands". The BIC has a standing secretariat, located in Edinburgh, Scotland, and meets in semi-annual summit session and more frequent ministerial meetings.[3]

British-Irish Council
Logo of the British-Irish Council
Formation2 December 1999
TypeIntergovernmental organisation
Legal statusBritish-Irish Agreement
HeadquartersEdinburgh, Scotland1
Coordinates55°56′45″N 3°13′21″W / 55.94584°N 3.22262°W
Region served
British Isles2
1 This is the location of the Standing. The term British Isles being a geographical term as distinct from the political. See Secretariat of the British-Irish Council.
2 Owing to a dispute over name of the archipelago, the BIC uses a number of euphemisms to avoid this term in its documents.

Membership and operation

Membership of the Council consists of the following administrations (with current heads of administrations as of April 2019):

Member Administration Representative(s) Title
Guernsey Gavin St Pier President of the Policy and Resources Committee
Jersey Ian gorst in the royal square Ian Gorst Chief Minister
Ireland Leo Varadkar 2016 Leo Varadkar, TD Taoiseach
Isle of Man Howard Quayle Howard Quayle, MHK Chief Minister
Northern Ireland[4] Vacant Executive Office
Scotland Nicola Sturgeon 2017a (cropped) Nicola Sturgeon, MSP First Minister
Wales Mark Drakeford - National Assembly for Wales Mark Drakeford, AM First Minister
United Kingdom Theresa May closeup Theresa May, MP Prime Minister

The nine heads of government meet at summits twice per year. Additionally, there are regular meetings that deal with specific sectors and are attended by the corresponding ministers. Representatives of members operate in accordance with whatever procedures for democratic authority and accountability are in force in their respective elected legislatures.

England, unlike the other countries of the United Kingdom, is not represented separately, as it does not have its own devolved administration. It is thus solely represented on the Council as part of the United Kingdom.

The work of the Council is financed by members through mutual agreement as required.[5] At the ninth meeting of the Council in July 2007 it was decided that with devolved government returned to Northern Ireland that an opportune time existed "to undertake a strategic review of the Council's work programmes, working methods and support arrangements." This decision included the potential for a permanent standing secretariat, which was established in Edinburgh, Scotland, on 4 January 2012.

At its June 2010 summit, the Council decided to move forward on recommendations to enhance the relationship between it and the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly (BIPA). The British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly is made up of members from the parliaments and assemblies of the same states and regions as the members of the British–Irish Council. The Council tasked its secretariat with moving this work forward in conjunction with the BIPA's secretariat.

In addition to the above members Cornwall has been a full observer member since 2010 due to the Cornish language falling under the Council's areas of work.[6]

Work areas

The Council agrees to specific work areas for which individual members take responsibility. The Belfast Agreement suggested transport links, agriculture, environmental issues, culture, health, education and approaches to the European Union as suitable topics for early discussion. However, these work areas can be expanded or reduced as the Council decides. It is also open to the Council to make agreement on common policies. These agreements are made through consensus, although individual members may opt not to participate in implementing any of these.

The current list of work areas and the member responsible are:

  • Collaborative spatial planning (Northern Ireland)
  • Demography (Scotland)
  • Digital inclusion (Isle of Man)
  • Early years policy (Wales)
  • Energy (United Kingdom - Electricity Grids, and Scotland - Marine)
  • Environment (United Kingdom)
  • Housing (Northern Ireland)
  • Indigenous, minority and lesser-used languages (Wales)
  • Misuse of Substances (drugs and alcohol) (Ireland)
  • Social inclusion (Scotland and Wales)
  • Transport (Northern Ireland)
  • Creative Industries (Jersey)

Demography was adopted as a work area at the 2006 meeting of the Council. It was proposed by the Scottish Executive, who also took responsibility for it. During the 2007 meeting of the Council the Scottish Government further proposed that energy become a work area of the Council. Past work sector areas included knowledge economy, e-health / telemedicine and tourism.

Name of the Council

Initial suggestions for the council included the names Council of the British Isles[7] or Council of the Isles,[8] and the council has sometimes been known by the latter name. However, owing to sensitivities around the term British Isles, particularly in Ireland, the name British-Irish Council was agreed.

The official name of the Council is represented in minority and lesser-used languages of the council as:


Date Host Host leader(s) Location held
1st 17 December 1999  United Kingdom Tony Blair London [1]
2nd 30 November 2001  Ireland Bertie Ahern Dublin [2]
3rd 14 June 2002  Jersey Pierre Horsfall Saint Helier [3]
4th 22 November 2002  Scotland Jack McConnell New Lanark [4]
5th 28 November 2003  Wales Rhodri Morgan St Fagans National History Museum, Cardiff [5]
6th 28 November 2004  Guernsey Laurie Morgan Castle Cornet [6]
7th 20 May 2005  Isle of Man Donald Gelling Villa Marina, Douglas [7]
8th 2 June 2006  United Kingdom John Prescott ExCeL Conference Centre, London [8]
9th 16 July 2007  Northern Ireland Ian Paisley
Martin McGuinness
Parliament Buildings, Belfast [9]
10th 14 February 2008  Ireland Bertie Ahern Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin [10]
11th 26 September 2008  Scotland Alex Salmond Hopetoun House, South Queensferry [11]
12th 20 February 2009  Wales Rhodri Morgan SWALEC Stadium, Cardiff [12]
13th 13 November 2009  Jersey Terry Le Sueur Radisson Hotel, Saint Helier [13]
14th 25 June 2010  Guernsey Lyndon Trott Fermain Valley Hotel, Saint Peter Port [14]
15th 13 December 2010  Isle of Man Tony Brown Sefton Hotel, Douglas [15]
16th 20 June 2011  United Kingdom Nick Clegg Lancaster House, London [16]
17th 13 January 2012  Ireland Enda Kenny Dublin Castle, Dublin [17]
18th 22 June 2012  Scotland Alex Salmond Stirling Castle, Stirling [18]
19th 26 November 2012  Wales Carwyn Jones Cardiff Castle, Cardiff [19]
20th 21 June 2013  Northern Ireland Peter Robinson
Martin McGuinness
Magee College, Derry~Londonderry [20]
21st 15 November 2013  Jersey Ian Gorst L’Horizon Hotel, Saint Brélade [21]
22nd 13 June 2014  Guernsey Jonathan Le Tocq St. Pierre Park Hotel, Saint Peter Port [22]
23rd 28 November 2014  Isle of Man Allan Bell Villa Marina Complex, Douglas [23]
24th 19 June 2015  Ireland Enda Kenny Dublin Castle, Dublin [24]
25th 27 November 2015  United Kingdom Theresa Villiers Lancaster House, London [25]
26th 17 June 2016  Scotland Nicola Sturgeon Crowne Plaza Hotel, Glasgow [26]
27th Extraordinary 22 July 2016  Wales Carwyn Jones Cathays Park, Cardiff [27]
28th 25 November 2016  Wales Carwyn Jones Cathays Park, Cardiff [28]
29th 10 November 2017  Jersey Ian Gorst L’Horizon Hotel, St. Brelade


30th 22 June 2018  Guernsey Gavin St Pier St Pierre Park Hotel, Saint Peter Port [30]
31st 9 November 2018  Isle of Man Howard Quayle Isle of Man [31]

See also


  1. ^ Jesse, Neal G., Williams, Kristen P.: Identity and institutions: conflict reduction in divided societies.Publisher SUNY Press, 2005, page 107. ISBN 0-7914-6451-2
  2. ^ See Vernon Bogdanor, 'The British–Irish Council and Devolution', in Government and Opposition: An International Journal of Comparative Politics, volume 34, issue 3, July 1999, pp.291–295.
  3. ^ "Scottish government website"
  4. ^ The First Minister and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland is a diarchy. While other members of the organization are represented at Summit Meetings by their respective chief ministers, or on occasions have sent their deputies, Northern Ireland is represented by both the First Minister and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland. The Scottish and Welsh Deputy First Ministers have attended meetings in the past.
  5. ^ Belfast Agreement – Strand Three, Articles 8 and 9.
    British-Irish Council website, Frequently Asked Questions: Who pays for the British-Irish Council? Archived 30 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Read, David (2014). Cornish National Minority Advisory Report. Truro: Cornwall Council. p. 22.
  7. ^ UDP proposes creation of British Isles council, Irish Times, May 30, 1996
  8. ^ The British-Irish Council: Nordic Lessons for the Council of the Isles, Mads Qvortrup and Robert Hazell, The Constitution Unit, October 1998
  9. ^ "Menystrans hembronk rag yethow teythyek, minoryta ha le-usys yw an Governans Kembrek". British-Irish Council. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  11. ^ "Work of the British-Irish Council". British-Irish Council. Archived from the original on 29 January 2004. Retrieved 11 April 2017.

External links

British Isles

The British Isles are a group of islands in the North Atlantic off the north-western coast of continental Europe that consist of the islands of Great Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Hebrides and over six thousand smaller isles. They have a total area of about 315,159 km2 and a combined population of almost 72 million, and include two sovereign states, the Republic of Ireland (which covers roughly five-sixths of Ireland), and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The islands of Alderney, Jersey, Guernsey, and Sark, and their neighbouring smaller islands, are sometimes also taken to be part of the British Isles, even though, as islands off the coast of France, they do not form part of the archipelago.The oldest rocks in the group are in the north west of Scotland, Ireland, and North Wales and are 2.7 billion years old. During the Silurian period, the north-western regions collided with the south-east, which had been part of a separate continental landmass. The topography of the islands is modest in scale by global standards. Ben Nevis rises to an elevation of only 1,345 metres (4,413 ft), and Lough Neagh, which is notably larger than other lakes in the island group, covers 390 square kilometres (151 sq mi). The climate is temperate marine, with mild winters and warm summers. The North Atlantic drift brings significant moisture and raises temperatures 11 °C (20 °F) above the global average for the latitude. This led to a landscape which was long dominated by temperate rainforest, although human activity has since cleared the vast majority of forest cover. The region was re-inhabited after the last glacial period of Quaternary glaciation, by 12,000 BC, when Great Britain was still part of a peninsula of the European continent. Ireland, which became an island by 12,000 BC, was not inhabited until after 8000 BC. Great Britain became an island by 5600 BC.

Hiberni (Ireland), Pictish (northern Britain) and Britons (southern Britain) tribes, all speaking Insular Celtic, inhabited the islands at the beginning of the 1st millennium AD. Much of Brittonic-occupied Britain was conquered by the Roman Empire from AD 43. The first Anglo-Saxons arrived as Roman power waned in the 5th century, and eventually dominated the bulk of what is now England. Viking invasions began in the 9th century, followed by more permanent settlements and political change, particularly in England. The Norman conquest of England in 1066 and the later Angevin partial conquest of Ireland from 1169 led to the imposition of a new Norman ruling elite across much of Britain and parts of Ireland. By the Late Middle Ages, Great Britain was separated into the Kingdoms of England and Kingdom of Scotland, while control in Ireland fluxed between Gaelic kingdoms, Hiberno-Norman lords and the English-dominated Lordship of Ireland, soon restricted only to The Pale. The 1603 Union of the Crowns, Acts of Union 1707 and Acts of Union 1800 attempted to consolidate Britain and Ireland into a single political unit, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, with the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands remaining as Crown Dependencies. The expansion of the British Empire and migrations following the Irish Famine and Highland Clearances resulted in the dispersal of some of the islands' population and culture throughout the world, and a rapid depopulation of Ireland in the second half of the 19th century. Most of Ireland seceded from the United Kingdom after the Irish War of Independence and the subsequent Anglo-Irish Treaty (1919–1922), with six counties remaining in the UK as Northern Ireland.

The term "British Isles" is controversial in Ireland, where there are nationalist objections to its usage. The Government of Ireland does not officially recognise the term, and its embassy in London discourages its use. Britain and Ireland is used as an alternative description, and Atlantic Archipelago has also seen limited use in academia.

British–Irish Intergovernmental Conference

The British–Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIGC) is an intergovernmental organization established by the Governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom under the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. It first met in London in 1999, and the latest meeting took place in Dublin on 2 November 2018.When the Northern Ireland Assembly is suspended, devolved matters revert to the BIIGC's remit. The BIIGC guarantees the Government of Ireland a say in areas of bilateral co-operation and on those matters not yet devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly or the North/South Ministerial Council.The BIIGC is normally chaired by the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Provision is made however for meetings at summit level, i.e. between the Taoiseach and Prime Minister, as required. Summit meetings of the BIIGC took place in 1999, 2005 and 2018. There is also provision under the Belfast Agreement for Members of the Legislative Assembly to be involved in the intergovernmental conference but they do not have the power to block decisions taken by the two governments.

British–Irish Parliamentary Assembly

The British–Irish Parliamentary Assembly (BIPA, Irish: Tionól Pharlaiminteach na Breataine agus na hÉireann) is a deliberative body consisting of members elected to the parliaments of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the British crown dependencies. Its purpose is to foster common understanding between elected representatives from these jurisdictions.

The assembly consists of 25 members each from the Parliament of the United Kingdom and the Oireachtas (the Irish parliament) as well as five representatives each from the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales, and the Northern Ireland Assembly, and one each from the States of Jersey, the States of Guernsey and the Tynwald of the Isle of Man.

Crown dependencies

The Crown dependencies (French: Dépendances de la Couronne, Manx: Croghaneyn-crooin) are three island territories off the coast of Great Britain that are self-governing possessions of the Crown: the Bailiwick of Guernsey, the Bailiwick of Jersey and the Isle of Man. They do not form part of either the United Kingdom or the British Overseas Territories. Internationally, the dependencies are considered "territories for which the United Kingdom is responsible", rather than sovereign states. As a result, they are not member states of the Commonwealth of Nations. However, they do have relationships with the Commonwealth, the European Union, and other international organisations, and are members of the British–Irish Council. They have their own teams in the Commonwealth Games. They are not part of the European Union (EU), although they are within the EU's customs area. The Isle of Man (along with the United Kingdom) is within the EU's VAT area.

As the Crown dependencies are not sovereign states, the power to pass legislation affecting the islands ultimately rests with the government of the United Kingdom (though this is rarely done without the consent of the dependencies, and the right to do so is disputed). However they each have their own legislative assembly, with the power to legislate on many local matters with the assent of the Crown (Privy Council, or in the case of the Isle of Man in certain circumstances the Lieutenant-Governor). In each case, the head of government is referred to as the Chief Minister.

Deputy First Minister of Scotland

The Deputy First Minister of Scotland (Scottish Gaelic: Leas-Phrìomh Mhinistear na h-Alba; Scots: Heid Meinister Depute o Scotland) is the deputy to the First Minister of Scotland. The post-holder deputises for the First Minister of Scotland in period of absence or overseas visits, and will be expected to answer to the Scottish Parliament on behalf of the First Minister at First Minister's Questions.

External relations of Guernsey

The Bailiwick of Guernsey is a British Crown dependency in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy. As a bailiwick, Guernsey embraces not only all ten parishes on the Island of Guernsey, but also the islands of Alderney and Sark – each with their own parliament – and the smaller islands of Herm, Jethou and Lihou. Although its defence is the responsibility of the United Kingdom, the Bailiwick is not part of the United Kingdom, but, as its description suggests, a possession of the Crown. Consequently, though it lies within the Common Travel Area, it is not part of the European Union.

The Policy and Resources Committee are responsible for external relations.

External relations of Jersey

Jersey is a self-governing parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy, with its own financial, legal and judicial systems, and the power of self-determination, which has relations with other countries, territories and international organisations.

Although diplomatic representation is reserved to the Crown, Jersey has been developing its own international identity over recent years. It negotiates directly with foreign governments on matters within the competence of the States of Jersey. Jersey maintains the Bureau de Jersey in Caen, France, a permanent non-diplomatic representation, with a branch office in Rennes. A similar office, the Maison de Normandie in St. Helier, represents the Conseil général of Manche and the Regional Council of Lower Normandy. It also houses the Consulate of France. In July 2009, a Channel Islands Tunnel was proposed to connect Jersey with Lower Normandy.Jersey is a member of the British-Irish Council, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie. Jersey wants to become a full member of the Commonwealth in its own right.

First Minister of Scotland

The First Minister of Scotland (Scottish Gaelic: Prìomh Mhinistear na h-Alba; Scots: Heid Meinister o Scotland) is the leader of the Scottish Government. The First Minister chairs the Scottish Cabinet and is primarily responsible for the formulation, development and presentation of Scottish Government policy. Additional functions of the First Minister include promoting and representing Scotland in an official capacity, at home and abroad, and responsibility for constitutional affairs, as they relate to devolution and the Scottish Government.The First Minister is a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) and nominated by the Scottish Parliament before being officially appointed by the monarch. Members of the Cabinet and junior ministers of the Scottish Government as well as the Scottish law officers, are appointed by the First Minister. As head of the Scottish Government, the First Minister is directly accountable to the Scottish Parliament for their actions and the actions of the wider government.

Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party is the current First Minister of Scotland.

Foras na Gaeilge

Foras na Gaeilge (Irish pronunciation: [ˈfˠɔɾˠəsˠ n̪əˠ ˈɡeːlʲɟə], "Irish Institute"; often abbreviated to FnaG) is a public body responsible for the promotion of the Irish language throughout the island of Ireland, including both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. It was set up on 2 December 1999, assuming the roles of the Irish language board Bord na Gaeilge (including the book distributor Áisíneacht Dáiliúchan Leabhar), the publisher An Gúm, and the terminological committee An Coiste Téarmaíochta, all three of which had formerly been state bodies of the Irish government.

Good Friday Agreement

The Good Friday Agreement (GFA) or Belfast Agreement (Irish: Comhaontú Aoine an Chéasta or Comhaontú Bhéal Feirste) was a major political development in the Northern Ireland peace process of the 1990s. Northern Ireland's present devolved system of government is based on the agreement. The agreement also created a number of institutions between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom.

The agreement is made up of two inter-related documents, both agreed in Belfast on Good Friday, 10 April 1998:

a multi-party agreement by most of Northern Ireland's political parties (the Multi-Party Agreement);

an international agreement between the British and Irish governments (the British–Irish Agreement).The agreement set out a complex series of provisions relating to a number of areas including:

The status and system of government of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom. (Strand 1)

The relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. (Strand 2)

The relationship between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. (Strand 3)Issues relating to sovereignty, civil and cultural rights, decommissioning of weapons, demilitarisation, justice, and policing were central to the agreement.

The agreement was approved by voters across the island of Ireland in two referendums held on 22 May 1998. In Northern Ireland, voters were asked in the 1998 Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement referendum whether they supported the multi-party agreement. In the Republic of Ireland, voters were asked whether they would allow the state to sign the agreement and allow necessary constitutional changes (Nineteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland) to facilitate it. The people of both jurisdictions needed to approve the agreement in order to give effect to it.

The British–Irish Agreement came into force on 2 December 1999. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) was the only major political group in Northern Ireland to oppose the Good Friday Agreement.

Ireland–United Kingdom relations

Ireland–United Kingdom relations, also referred to as Irish–British relations, or Anglo-Irish relations, are the relations between the states of Ireland and the United Kingdom. The three devolved administrations of the United Kingdom, in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the three dependencies of the British Crown, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey, also participate in multilateral bodies created between the two states.Since at least the 1600s, all of these areas have been connected politically, reaching a height in 1801 with the creation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. About five-sixths of the island of Ireland seceded from the United Kingdom in 1921 as the Irish Free State. Historically, relations between the two states have been influenced heavily by issues arising from their shared (and frequently troubled) history, the independence of the Irish Free State and the governance of Northern Ireland. These include the partition of Ireland and the terms of Ireland's secession, its constitutional relationship with and obligations to the UK after independence, and the outbreak of political violence in Northern Ireland. Additionally, the high level of trade between the two states, their proximate geographic location, their common status as islands in the European Union, common language and close cultural and personal links mean political developments in both states often closely follow each other.

Today, Irish and British citizens are accorded equivalent reciprocal rights and entitlements (with a small number of minor exceptions) and a Common Travel Area exists between Ireland, United Kingdom, and the Crown Dependencies. The British–Irish Intergovernmental Conference acts as an official forum for co-operation between the Government of Ireland and the Government of the United Kingdom on matters of mutual interest generally, and with respect to Northern Ireland in particular. Two other bodies, the British–Irish Council and the British–Irish Parliamentary Assembly act as a forum for discussion between the executives and assemblies, respectively, of the region, including the devolved regions in the UK and the three Crown dependencies. Co-operation between Northern Ireland and Ireland, including the execution of common policies in certain areas, occurs through the North/South Ministerial Council. In 2014, the UK Prime Minister David Cameron, and the Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny described the relationship between the two countries as being at 'an all time high'.Both Ireland and the United Kingdom joined the European Union (then the European Communities) in 1973. However, the three Crown dependencies remain outside of the EU. In June 2016, the United Kingdom held a referendum in which the majority voted to leave the European Union, but the majority of voters in Northern Ireland voted for remaining in the EU.

Islands of the North Atlantic

IONA (Islands of the North Atlantic) is an acronym suggested in 1980 by Sir John Biggs-Davison to refer to a loose linkage of England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, the Isle of Man and Channel Islands, similar to the present day British-Irish Council. Its intended purpose was as a more politically acceptable alternative to British Isles, which is disliked by many people in Ireland.The neologism has been criticised on the grounds that it excludes most of the islands in the North Atlantic, and also that the only island referred to by the term that is actually in the North Atlantic Ocean is Ireland. Great Britain is in fact in between the Irish Sea and The North Sea. It has been used particularly in the context of the Northern Irish peace process during the negotiation of the Good Friday Agreement, as a neutral name for the proposed council.

One feature of this name is that IONA has the same spelling as the island of Iona which is off the coast of Scotland but with which Irish people have strong cultural associations. It is therefore a name with which people of both main islands might identify. Taoiseach Bertie Ahern noted the symbolism in a 2006 address in Edinburgh:[The Island of] Iona is a powerful symbol of relationships between these islands, with its ethos of service not dominion. Iona also radiated out towards the Europe of the Dark Ages, not to mention Pagan England at Lindisfarne. The British-Irish Council is the expression of a relationship that at the origin of the Anglo-Irish process in 1981 was sometimes given the name Iona, islands of the North Atlantic, and sometimes Council of the Isles, with its evocation of the Lords of the Isles of the 14th and 15th centuries who spanned the North Channel. In the 17th century, Highland warriors and persecuted Presbyterian Ministers criss-crossed the North Channel.

In a Dáil Éireann debate, Proinsias De Rossa was less enthusiastic: The acronym IONA is a useful way of addressing the coming together of these two islands. However, the island of Iona is probably a green heaven in that nobody lives on it and therefore it cannot be polluted in any way.

Outside the Northern Ireland peace process the term IONA is used by the World Universities Debating Championship and in inter-varsity debating competitions throughout Britain and Ireland. In this context IONA is one of the regions which appoint a representative onto the committee of the World Universities Debating Council. Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Iceland would be included in the definition of IONA used in this context, while Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island would be in North America. However, none of these islands have yet participated in the World Universities Debating Championships. Otherwise, the term has achieved very little popular usage in any context.

Member of the Scottish Parliament

Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP; Scottish Gaelic: Ball Pàrlamaid na h-Alba, BPA; Scots: Memmer o the Scots Pairliament, MSP) is the title given to any one of the 129 individuals elected to serve in the Scottish Parliament.

North/South Ministerial Council

The North/South Ministerial Council (NSMC) (Irish: An Chomhairle Aireachta Thuaidh-Theas, Ulster-Scots: North South Meinisterlie Council) is a body established under the Good Friday Agreement to co-ordinate activity and exercise certain governmental powers across the whole island of Ireland.

The Council takes the form of meetings between ministers from both Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and is responsible for twelve policy areas. Six of these areas are the responsibility of corresponding North/South Implementation Bodies. The body is based in the city of Armagh in Northern Ireland.

The North/South Ministerial Council and the Northern Ireland Assembly are "mutually inter-dependent" institutions: one cannot exist without the other. When the Northern Ireland Assembly is suspended, responsibility for areas of co-operation fall to the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference.

Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2006

The Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2006 (c 53) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It implemented the St Andrews Agreement. It is modified by section 1 of the Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2007.

Politics in the British Isles

The British Isles comprise two sovereign states, Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom, and three dependencies of the British Crown, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.

Ireland is a unitary state and a republic. Since 1998, it shares certain common institutions with Northern Ireland, in the United Kingdom, from which it was partitioned in 1921. The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy and also a unitary state comprising England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Also since 1998, the United Kingdom has devolved significant domestic powers (though differing in extent) to administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Jersey, the Isle of Man, and Guernsey (including its two semi-autonomous territories of Alderney and Sark), are collectively known as the Crown Dependencies; although not part of the United Kingdom, the UK is responsible for their defence and international relations on behalf of the British Crown.In 1998, as part of the Good Friday Agreement, Ireland and the United Kingdom established a number of organisations, including the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference and the British-Irish Council, the latter being a multilateral body in which both sovereign states, the three devolved administrations of the UK and the three Crown dependencies participate. Additionally, there are numerous relations between the countries in the British Isles, including formal and informal bilateral and multilateral relations between Ireland, the devolved administrations of the UK, and the crown dependencies, as well as shared cultural and economic links.

Reform Group (Ireland)

The Reform Group is an organisation based in Dublin which seeks to have Ireland rejoin the Commonwealth of Nations and to promote "a more inclusive definition of Irish identity" throughout all of Ireland.The group was launched in 1998 under its then name The Reform Movement shortly after the successful referendum ratifying the Good Friday Agreement and describing itself as a coalition of "new unionists for the new millennium".A number of its founders, such as Anne Holliday, had been members of the anti-republican group, New Consensus. At its launch, the group called for:

support for the creation of the British–Irish Council as set out in the Good Friday Agreement

the extension of full British citizenship rights to those who sought it in Ireland

the appointment of a senior official in the Department of the Taoiseach with special responsibility for minority affairs

legislative change so that five of the 11 Senators currently nominated by the Taoiseach would be drawn from minority groups in Ireland

State support for Ulster Scots speakers

increased resources for the Garda Síochána to help it tackle crime and terrorismThe group claims to be a voice for "alternative viewpoints" of "Irishmen and Irishwomen who do not fit in the seamless definition" of nationalist or unionist. It has previously voiced support for citizens of Ireland being given the right to apply for British passports. The group has also expressed views that are critical of the status of the Irish language.In May 2010, the group launched a book called, Ireland and the Commonwealth: Towards Membership. Speaking at the launch were independent Senator David Norris, writer Mary Kenny and Trinity College professor Robert Martin, all of whom stated their support for Ireland rejoining the Commonwealth.


Scotland (Scots: Scotland; Scottish Gaelic: Alba [ˈal̪ˠapə] (listen)) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Sharing a border with England to the southeast, Scotland is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, by the North Sea to the northeast and by the Irish Sea to the south. In addition to the mainland, situated on the northern third of the island of Great Britain, Scotland has over 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.

The Kingdom of Scotland emerged as an independent sovereign state in the Early Middle Ages and continued to exist until 1707. By inheritance in 1603, James VI, King of Scots, became King of England and King of Ireland, thus forming a personal union of the three kingdoms. Scotland subsequently entered into a political union with the Kingdom of England on 1 May 1707 to create the new Kingdom of Great Britain. The union also created a new Parliament of Great Britain, which succeeded both the Parliament of Scotland and the Parliament of England. In 1801, the Kingdom of Great Britain and Kingdom of Ireland enacted a political union to create a United Kingdom. The majority of Ireland subsequently seceded from the UK in 1922.

Within Scotland, the monarchy of the United Kingdom has continued to use a variety of styles, titles and other royal symbols of statehood specific to the pre-union Kingdom of Scotland. The legal system within Scotland has also remained separate from those of England and Wales and Northern Ireland; Scotland constitutes a distinct jurisdiction in both public and private law. The continued existence of legal, educational, religious and other institutions distinct from those in the remainder of the UK have all contributed to the continuation of Scottish culture and national identity since the 1707 union with England.The Scottish Parliament, which is a unicameral legislature comprising 129 members, was established in 1999 and has authority over those areas of domestic policy which have been devolved by the United Kingdom Parliament. The head of the Scottish Government, the executive of the devolved legislature, is the First Minister of Scotland. Scotland is represented in the UK House of Commons by 59 MPs and in the European Parliament by 6 MEPs. Scotland is also a member of the British–Irish Council, and sends five members of the Scottish Parliament to the British–Irish Parliamentary Assembly. Scotland is divided into 32 subdivisions, known as local authorities, or councils. Glasgow City is the largest subdivision in Scotland in terms of population, with Highland being the largest in terms of area.

Scottish republicanism

Scottish republicanism (Scottish Gaelic: Poblachdas na h-Alba) is an ideology based on the belief that Scotland should be a republic, as opposed to being under the monarchy of the United Kingdom. This is usually proposed through either Scotland becoming an independent republic, or being part of a reformed Britain.

Although this is not explicitly part of the independence movement, support for a republic is most often through pro-independence organisations who advocate for Scotland to become an independent state with a democratically elected head of state, instead of the status quo in which the head of state is the British monarch.

British–Irish Council
Member jurisdictions
Member bodies
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Representatives of states

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