In my role as the Co-chair of the British Irish Parliamentary Association it was a pleasure to hold the meeting in my constituency, and additionally, to host the Princess Royal at dinner on the 16th.
She has of course ridden round the racecourse many times as a jockey and it was a great honour for her to open the stand, a product of £45 million of investment, which will undoubtedly enhance the experience of racing here at Cheltenham.
BIPA’s role is to help foster good relations, principally between the UK and Ireland, and there can be no doubt that it has done so over many years. We reflected on this topic at the plenary, with the ongoing Northern Ireland talks at the time a key area of discussion.
We had the opportunity to hear from the Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Ben Wallace MP, who updated us on the talks, and also the Chief Constable of the Police Service for Northern Ireland, George Hamilton, and the Commissioner of An Garda Siochana, Noirín O’Sullivan, who discussed the security situation in the Republic and in Northern Ireland.
It was a very productive session and I look forward to continuing to work alongisde my co-chair Frank Feighan TD and the rest of the Assembly.