Sunday, December 09, 2007


British - Irish Parliamentary Body meets in Oxfordshire

I spent the weekend at the British Irish Parliamentary Body meeting in Oxfordshire. These meetings take place every six months, alternating between a location in the UK and one in Ireland. In all there were about 50 representatives from parliaments across Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands.

I got the chance to meet a lot of Seantors and TDs from the Oireachtas that I hadn't met socially before. I also spoke on a couple of issues including the plight of elderly Irish emigrants in the UK and the need to harmonise the driving penalty points system between the North and South of Ireland.

In the Seanad I spoke on the issue of Reform of the Seanad. I would hope that we can see real change so that the franchise can be extended from the current base.

The news that the government is to launch a €15m campaign to raise awareness on climate change was good news and is a positive development in the lead up to the Bali summit on Climate Change.

I was appointed to the Labour Party National Executive Committee as a Parliamentary Party nominee and we met for the first time on Saturday. It was my first NEC meeting and, what with the new make-up of the group, future meetings promise to be lively affairs.

Afterwards I flew out to Niger in West Africa for a study tour of the aid programme in action. With a population of 13 million, Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world. I spent four days in meetings with aid agencies, ministers (including the President, Mamadou Tandja) and touring various villages to see programmes in action. These included water irrigation schemes, horticulture farms and a teacher training college. I have to prepare a detailed paper on the visit for the Foreign Affairs Committee, and when I do I will put a link on to it here.

I'm an Irish-American an sense that Irland has a immigrant problem that is not getting any better.
What is Ireland's remedy or am I mistaken in it being an issue that needs attending ?
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