British–Irish Council

British-Irish Council
Logo of the British-Irish Council
Abbreviation BIC
Formation 2 December 1999 (1999-12-02)
Type Intergovernmental organisation
Legal status British-Irish Agreement
Headquarters Edinburgh, Scotland1
Coordinates 55°56′45″N 3°13′21″W / 55.94584°N 3.22262°W / 55.94584; -3.22262
Region served
British Isles2
1 This is the location of the Standing 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.

The British–Irish Council (BIC) is an intergovernmental organisation which 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 UK's devolved administrations for 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 representated on the Council.[2]

The British and Irish governments, and political parties in Northern Ireland, agreed to form a Council in 1998 under the Good Friday Agreement. The Council was formally established on 2 December 1999 with the signing of an international agreement between the British Government and Irish Government—the British–Irish Agreement. Its 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]

Membership and operation

Membership of the Council consists of the following administrations (with current heads of administrations as of December 2016):

Member Administration Representative(s) Title
Guernsey Deputy Gavin St Pier Chief Minister
Isle of Man Howard Quayle, MHK Chief Minister
Ireland Enda Kenny, TD Taoiseach
Jersey Senator Ian Gorst Chief Minister
Northern Ireland[4] Arlene Foster, MLA First Minister
Martin McGuinness, MLA deputy First Minister
Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, MSP First Minister
United Kingdom Theresa May, MP Prime Minister
Wales Carwyn Jones, AM First 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.

The work of the Council is financed by members through mutual agreement as required.[5] At the ninth meeting of the Council, 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 sensibilities 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:

  • Irish: Comhairle na Breataine-na hÉireann[9]
  • Guernésiais: Conseil Britannique-Irlàndais
  • Jèrriais: Conseil Britannique-Irlandais
  • Manx: Coonceil Ghoaldagh-Yernagh


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

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 Minister's 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
  10. "Menystrans hembronk rag yethow teythyek, minoryta ha le-usys yw an Governans Kembrek". British-Irish Council. Retrieved 22 July 2014.

External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/30/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.