Any Irish border could damage communities and trade, cross-border assembly warns

The British Irish Parliamentary Assembly heard from politicians across Britain and Ireland

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The British Irish Parliamentary Assembly | Image: Image: Flickr/Houses of the Oireachtas

The British Irish Parliamentary Assembly (BIPA) has warned that any hard border on the island of Ireland could be damaging to both communities and trade.

The 52nd session has closed, after two days of discussions on the British EU referendum.

It was held in Malahide, Dublin and heard from parliamentarians from across Britain and Ireland - including the Oireachtas, Westminster, the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

Discussion was dominated by the result of the Brexit referendum, and how the assembly can address the implications of the British decision to leave the EU.

There was widespread agreement that the return of a border on the island of Ireland would be damaging at community level, as well as potentially impacting negatively on trade.

In its final session of the day, BIPA was addressed by former health minister, Senator James Reilly, and the previous chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children, Senator Jerry Buttimer.

MP Jeffrey Donaldson attends the 52nd British Irish Parliamentary Assembly | Image: Flickr/Houses of the Oireachtas/Maxwell's

This focused on key issues involving alcohol misuse; cigarette labelling and the rights of adopted people to secure their identities through enhanced tracing services and access to their birth certificates.

Irish co-chair, Kathleen Funchion, said: "This 52nd BIPA plenary has been an especially significant one. It was the first time many members from across these islands came together since the result of the British referendum."

"Our discussions were rightly dominated by Brexit and all members reiterated their desire to continue the vital work done by BIPA in improving relations between all the administrations on these islands."

"Our invited speakers provided us with important updates on some of the issues facing us on these islands, while updates on the Assembly’s Committee reports allowed members to follow up on work done at previous plenaries."

Acting British co-chair, Lord Alfred Dubs added: "I have been pleased to see the determination shown by all attendees to work hard to ensure that good relations are maintained and there was broad agreement that a hard border must not be reintroduced."

"We have held very positive debates on the impact of the referendum result and I am encouraged that BIPA can play an important role in future developments."

The assembly's mission is to promote co-operation between political representatives in Britain and Ireland.

It was established in 1990, as a link between the UK Houses of Parliament and the Houses of the Oireachtas.