The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D., attended the Agriculture Sectoral meeting of the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC). The meeting was held via video conference, in compliance with current public health restrictions. Minister McConalogue was accompanied by Heather Humphreys T.D., Minister for Community and Rural Development, who spoke on rural development matters.
This was the first NSMC Agriculture Sectoral meeting since 2016. The meeting was chaired by Northern Ireland Minister for Environment, Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots M.L.A., who was accompanied by the Northern Ireland Minister for Infrastructure, Nicola Mallon M.L.A.
Topics on the agenda included developments and collaboration under the agreed areas of co-operation: animal and plant health; EU funding; CAP issues; and, rural development. In addition, as requested by the Council at the NSMC Plenary meeting in July, each Sector considered the implications of UK withdrawal from the EU and how North-South approaches to Covid-19 could contribute to the promotion of economic and social recovery.
Minister McConalogue said that he “welcomed the return of the NSMC meetings, which are a valuable opportunity to note the on-going North South co-operation and collaboration on the many important issues that affect our agri-food sectors. The forum is particularly important in the context of the UK withdrawal from the EU and the Covid-19 pandemic, both of which present immediate challenges for us all.”
Minister Humphreys said she “was delighted to have another productive engagement with Minister Poots today, at which we reiterated our shared desire to increase cooperation on issues concerning rural development. Both our Governments are fully committed to improving the lives of people living and working in rural areas, particularly in Border regions, and on ensuring that rural communities can continue to make substantial contributions to our overall economic and social wellbeing. I look forward to further cooperation with Minister Poots and between our Departments on our many areas of common interest, including on programmes such as LEADER and PEACE PLUS and exploring the significant opportunities ahead of us related to digital connectivity and remote working.”
Joint Communiqué issued by the NSMC Joint Secretariat is available at www.northsouthministerialcouncil.org/publications/agriculture-joint-communique-18-november-2020