Coveney to attend Intergovernmental Conference in London – Irish Times



An Irish and UK government consultation body will meet later for the first time in more than a decade amid efforts to restore Stormont powersharing.

The British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference will be held in London, a year and a half after devolved government imploded in Belfast.

It gives the Irish a consultative role on non-devolved issues affecting Northern Ireland.

It last met in 2007 and its return has proved controversial. When it was last called security was a major part of its remit but those powers were later devolved to Stormont.

Sinn Féin and the SDLP have long been calling for the conference’s re-establishment to inject fresh impetus into the stalled political process in Belfast.

But unionists have been wary of handing too much influence to Dublin and dismissed the gathering as a “talking shop”.

UK Cabinet Office minister David Lidington and Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley are expected to attend.

The Government will be represented by Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan.

Powersharing crashed in January 2017 after a bitter row between the DUP and Sinn Féin over a botched green energy scheme dubbed ‘Cash for Ash’.

The impasse later widened to include more traditional issues of contention, such as the Irish language, LGBT rights and how to handle to legacy of the Troubles.

–PA