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Leaders encourage 'spirit of mutual respect' in centenary commemorations

Enda Kenny and David Cameron’s joint statement on the next decade of British-Irish relations also reiterated the countries dedication to the EU and the Single Market.
Mar 12th 2012, 6:22 PM 2,654 48

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY and British Prime Minister David Cameron have said they will work together to encourage a spirit of mutual respect and understanding as forthcoming centenaries are commemorated.

In a joint statement issued from Downing Street today, the leaders noted that 2012 marks the beginning of a decade of centenary anniversaries of events that shaped Ireland and the UK’s political destinies.

“This series of commemorations offers us an opportunity to explore and reflect on key episodes of our past,” they said. “We will do so in a spirit of historical accuracy, mutual respect, inclusiveness and reconciliation.”

The Taoiseach met Cameron at Downing Street as part of his St Patrick’s Day visit to London. The pair concluded a one-hour talk on proposals to strengthen bilateral relations and issued a statement on how their Governments intend to “reinforce” the British Irish relationship.

The declaration mapped out plans for the relationship over the next 10 years, including the countries roles in Europe and further economic and trade cooperation.

The pair said that the relationship between the two countries has “never been stronger or more settled, as complex or as important” as it is today given the geographical, historical, economic, cultural and familial links.

They noted that 2011 was a momentous year with the State Visit by Queen Elizabeth II and welcomed the prospect of a return State Visit by the President of Ireland “at an appropriate time”.

On Northern Ireland

We acknowledge the excellent security cooperation between our two governments, and will continue to stand fast together in the face of those who resort to violence, which is abhorred by our people and has no place in our societies.

Cameron and Kenny – who had previously said the time was right for a joint statement on British Irish relations – said their political relationship was “uniquely close” as it is grounded in the progress made over the past 25 years in the peace process in Northern Ireland.

“We stand together in continuing and unqualified support for the Agreements and institutions to which the process led,” the said.

Above all, we stand together with the people of Northern Ireland and its Executive in our determination to make sure that society there is never again blighted by violent conflict. But our aim, along with the Executive, is more than that: it is a society that is not only peaceful, but stable, prosperous, and based on a genuinely shared future for all.

They also said that efforts will be intensified to encourage economic cooperation on the island of Ireland, mentioning the all-Ireland Single Electricity Market as an “excellent example of what can be achieved”.

On Europe

Kenny and Cameron reiterated both countries support of the Single Market and how they will continue to consult each other on key EU policy issues.

They said they will work together to encourage an “outward-facing EU” which promotes jobs and growth.

We share a desire to reduce the burden of regulation, particularly on small and medium enterprises, and believe that the Single Market should in particular take advantage of digital opportunities, reflecting the growing importance of online commerce and trade, opening up services markets and establishing a genuine, efficient and effective internal market in energy.

On the economy

Cameron and Kenny noted that, at times, Great Britain and Ireland compete with each other but recognised that the economies have “different strengths”.

We are committed to boosting competitiveness and productivity and to supporting innovation, research and development and we plan to intensify our cooperation to help to make this happen.

Work will be carried out to identify and pursue opportunities for collaboration in a number of areas:

  • There are plans to examine ways to increase collaboration between third-level colleges, research institutes and business sectors.
  • The promotion of mutually-beneficial investment and deployment of “significant untapped potential in renewable energy” has also been promised.
  • There is considerable potential for closer cooperation in the agri-food sector.
  • Other areas to be examined include professional and financial services and the creative sectors such as media, music, film, fashion and ICT.
  • Shared strengths in areas such as the construction sector offer potential for global-scale partnerships between British and Irish firms.

On global issues

Addressing the challenge of climate change, Kenny and Cameron said cooperation will be seen within the EU and in the context of wider international negotiations.

They added that both countries are “strong supporters” of international aid and pledged to work together to promote a more equitable international society.

At present, the DFID and Irish Aid work together in Africa and elsewhere to combat hunger and poverty.

Both the Governments said the declaration on the future relationship will be the “starting point for realising the potential over the next decade of even stronger relations for current and future generations”.

More: Government asks historians for advice on centenary commemorations>

Earlier: Kenny and Cameron to issue statement on British-Irish relations>

Column: Yes, centenaries are tourism gold but let’s not forget our past for a quick buck>

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Sinead O'Carroll

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