Ireland, Britain sign new agreement to tackle Northern Ireland paramilitarism

Charlie Flanagan held talks with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

Ireland, Britain sign new agreement to tackle Northern Ireland paramilitarism

Minister Charlie Flanagan (left) and Secretary of State James Brokenshire in Iveagh House, Dublin | Image via @NIOPressOffice on Twitter

The Irish and British governments have signed a new agreement to tackle paramilitarism in Northern Ireland.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has held talks in Dublin with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire.

They signed an international treaty to provide for the establishment of the Independent Reporting Commission (IRC).

Following the signing, Minister Flanagan and Mr Brokenshire held bilateral talks.

Among the issues discussed were the challenges posed by a UK exit from the EU, the full implementation of the Stormont House and Fresh Start Agreements, and the pressing need to reach agreement on the institutions dealing with the legacy of the past.

Following the meeting, Minister Flanagan said: "I had an open and productive discussion today with Secretary of State on the consequences of the UK electorate's decision to exit from the European Union, as it impacts on Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland.

"I set out the Government's concerns regarding Brexit, and our views on where further work and engagement will be needed, in particular regarding the shared concerns on Northern Ireland.

Minister Charlie Flanagan (left) and Secretary of State James Brokenshire in Iveagh House, Dublin | Image via @NIOPressOffice on Twitter

"This includes the maintenance of the open border, and ensuring that the huge benefits of the peace process are not disturbed by a UK exit.

"I agreed with the Secretary of State that the Good Friday Agreement is and will remain the foundation for cooperation between the Irish and British Governments on Northern Ireland and that this will have to be clearly upheld throughout the process, and in the final arrangements between the United Kingdom and the European Union."

Mr Brokenshire also says the British government is keen to make sure there is no return to a hard border.

While on the IRC agreement, Mr James Brokenshire said: "There was never any justification for paramilitary groups, there is none today and there will not be in the future.

"The IRC provides for an independent review of progress towards disbanding paramilitary groups which continue to blight our society.

"For generations, paramilitary activity wrecked lives in Northern Ireland, and for many people the repercussions continue.

"Today’s signing follows the commitments we made in last year’s Fresh Start Agreement. This includes £25 million UK government funding to support the Northern Ireland Executive’s strategy to end paramilitarism, plus a further £3 million to fund the IRC."

The IRC’s annual reports will be published by the UK and Irish governments.