09/09/2019. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Government Buildings in September 2019
Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Ever since its formation in 1972, the British-Irish Association has played a valuable role in bringing key people together to debate relationships across the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

It has made a significant contribution to the progress made in Northern Ireland over the past decades and it continues to set the agenda on how to build on that achievement.

 The British-Irish Association’s annual conference will not take place this year, because of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The British-Irish Association
Clarendon House
52 Cornmarket Street
Oxford
OX1 3HJ

Telephone +44(0)1865 557344

 

 

 

The 2019 conference took place in Cambridge on 6-8 September.  It was attended by 160 people from a wide spectrum – politicians and government officials, businessmen and women, academics, faith leaders, writers, former paramilitaries and community workers. Key speeches were made by the Tánaiste and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

The First Minister of Wales and the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations also spoke. 

The main theme of the conference was sustaining the vital relationships between Ireland and the UK at this difficult time.   Other issues under discussion were the mechanics of a Border poll, the constitutional futures of the UK, and the future governance of Northern Ireland.  Of particular note was a session on changing attitudes in the North that made valuable use of new polling data, evidence-based findings, and the more subjective experience of two leading Northern Irish writers.

The 2020 Conference will be held on 4-6 September.  Attendance is by invitation only. For more information, please contact us.

 

 

 

 

The 2018 conference was held at Pembroke College, Oxford on 7-9 September.  It was attended by over 160 people from a wide spectrum – politicians and government officials, businessmen and women, academics, faith leaders, writers, former paramilitaries and community workers. In the opening speech, José Manuel Barroso, the former President of the European Commission, shared his unique experience of the EU and his insights into the Brexit negotiations.  Key speeches were also made by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the Tánaiste and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Brexit necessarily featured on the conference agenda.  An incisive guide to the next steps in the process was provided by a leading constitutional expert, and followed by the First Minister of Wales, the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations, a Minister of State in the Department for Exiting the European Union and the Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union in joint discussion.

Brexit notwithstanding, Ireland and the UK will continue to be very closely linked. That this is particularly true in the field of higher education was amply demonstrated by the Provost of Trinity College Dublin and the Vice-Chancellors of Oxford and Ulster University who together spoke about the ways in which the higher education sector already works together across the three jurisdictions, the challenges that Brexit might pose to that collaboration, and ideas for enhancing it in the future. They also looked at the role of the universities in shaping the mental map of the future for young people. In an increasingly complex and polarised world, what can the sector do to stop the gap between Ireland and the UK from widening and instead to strengthen the ties between the nations?

At a time when questions of identity are under a spotlight, the various perspectives of the leader of Fianna Fáil, the Chairperson of Sinn Féin, a DUP MLA and a Westminster MP on Nationalism and Unionism did much to increase understanding of potentially opposing points of view.

 

In line with the BIA’s continuing emphasis on matters of particular concern in Northern Ireland, the final session of the conference focused on bridging the gaps between communities and dealing with legacy issues.  In the run-up to the anniversaries that fall within the next five years, the work of the WW1 Centenary Northern Ireland has shown that commemoration can bring people together across divides and borders. Sensitively curated story-telling is a powerful means of helping victims and survivors to deal with the past. And a sense of place can also help solve problems.  The conference ended on an encouraging note. 

 

 

 The British-Irish Association’s annual conference will not take place this year, because of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

 

 

The 2018 conference was held at Pembroke College, Oxford on 7-9 September.  It was attended by over 160 people from a wide spectrum – politicians and government officials, businessmen and women, academics, faith leaders, writers, former paramilitaries and community workers. In the opening speech, José Manuel Barroso, the former President of the European Commission, shared his unique experience of the EU and his insights into the Brexit negotiations.  Key speeches were also made by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the Tánaiste and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Brexit necessarily featured on the conference agenda.  An incisive guide to the next steps in the process was provided by a leading constitutional expert, and followed by the First Minister of Wales, the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations, a Minister of State in the Department for Exiting the European Union and the Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union in joint discussion.

Brexit notwithstanding, Ireland and the UK will continue to be very closely linked. That this is particularly true in the field of higher education was amply demonstrated by the Provost of Trinity College Dublin and the Vice-Chancellors of Oxford and Ulster University who together spoke about the ways in which the higher education sector already works together across the three jurisdictions, the challenges that Brexit might pose to that collaboration, and ideas for enhancing it in the future. They also looked at the role of the universities in shaping the mental map of the future for young people. In an increasingly complex and polarised world, what can the sector do to stop the gap between Ireland and the UK from widening and instead to strengthen the ties between the nations?

At a time when questions of identity are under a spotlight, the various perspectives of the leader of Fianna Fáil, the Chairperson of Sinn Féin, a DUP MLA and a Westminster MP on Nationalism and Unionism did much to increase understanding of potentially opposing points of view.

 

In line with the BIA’s continuing emphasis on matters of particular concern in Northern Ireland, the final session of the conference focused on bridging the gaps between communities and dealing with legacy issues.  In the run-up to the anniversaries that fall within the next five years, the work of the WW1 Centenary Northern Ireland has shown that commemoration can bring people together across divides and borders. Sensitively curated story-telling is a powerful means of helping victims and survivors to deal with the past. And a sense of place can also help solve problems.  The conference ended on an encouraging note.