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NI leaders to attend new East-West Council meeting


The first meeting of the East West Council is taking place in London today involving a meeting between leaders of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the British government.

The EWC was set up as part of the deal to get power sharing back up and running in Northern Ireland.

It is separate from the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference – the east-west body set up under the Good Friday Agreement.

The EWC is an internal British body that does not have any input from the Irish government.

The first meeting will be attended by First Minister of Northern Ireland, Michelle O’Neill, Deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly and Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris.

Michael Gove, the British Minister for Intergovernmental Relations, who will chair the meeting, said the EWC was an important part of the deal to restore devolved government in Northern Ireland.

“The Government is committed to working with our partners in the Northern Ireland Executive and across the UK to address shared challenges and opportunities including with an east-west dimension,” he said.

The EWC was established as part of the British command paper Safeguarding the Union.

That document also revoked part of the Withdrawal Agreement in which the British government committed to protecting the “all-island economy”.

It states that the British government’s priority is to protect Northern Ireland’s place in the UK internal market.


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