The first meeting of the North-South Inter-Parliamentary Association has been held, over 14 years after it was planned as part of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
The body involves public representatives from both the Dublin parliament and the Stormont Assembly outside Belfast. That it had finally convened was “a very positive development”, said Sinn Fein leader and Louth TD, Gerry Adams.
“It reflects the increasing acknowledgement that Ireland is too small for our people to live in isolation from each other and that working together is better for everyone,” he said.
The group, which met within the houses of the Dublin parliament, is made up of 50 members - 25 politicians from the Six Counties, including unionists and nationalists, and a group of 25 cross-party TDs and senators from the 26 Counties.
The next meeting, in spring 2013, will be held at Stormont.
All meetings are to be co-chaired by the Dail’s Ceann Comhairle [chairperson] Sean Barrett and Stormont speaker William Hay.
Mr Adams said while Sinn Fein and unionists could not agree an end to the north-south divide, the association gives the opportunity to improve relations.
“It makes sense to develop the widest possible cooperation and coordination of public services and economic development by removing the social, economic and bureaucratic barriers to enhancing the quality of life of citizens on this island,” he added.
“The Inter-Parliamentary Association provides another forum through which good relations and trust can be built. Greater harmonisation of our natural, human and economic resources can be agreed to our mutual benefit.”
Child protection was among the main issues discussed. The association will discuss the economy, health, environment, energy and social issues when it next meets in the North.