Irish green ministers cross north-south divide

Cross-border ministerial council holds first environment meeting, in success for peace process

Environment ministers from both sides of Ireland's north-south divide today held their first meeting under a new cross-border ministerial council set up as a result of the Northern Ireland peace process. The north-south ministerial council is intended to be a forum for cooperation and joint action between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK.

With Irish environment minister Noel Dempsey representing Ireland and Sam Foster for Northern Ireland's devolved assembly, today's meeting focused on cooperation over environmental research and monitoring and on common water management problems.

Ministers agreed to strengthen existing north-south cooperation over water management by creating a working group to look at implementation of the EU's draft water framework directive. This will require coordinated management across river basins, several of which are shared by the north and south of Ireland.

They also agreed to create a joint register of environmental research projects and to work more closely to develop new technologies for environmental monitoring. "We don't want duplication of research," an Northern Ireland environment ministry official told ENDS Daily today. There are common problems, such as eutrophication, "and through joint research we can better qualify for EU funding".

Follow Up:
Irish environment ministry, tel: +353 1 888 2000; Northern Irish environment ministry, tel: +44 28 90 54 08 37.

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