Page last updated at 17:26 GMT, Monday, 30 November 2009

North-south cooperation continued

The SDLP brought a motion to the assembly on the issue of north-south cooperation on 30 November 2009. This is the continuation and conclusion of the debate.

The party asked MLAs to recognise the economic, social, infrastructural and other benefits for the people of Northern Ireland greater cooperation can bring.

There is currently a review of the north-south implementation bodies, and the SDLP believe there is a case for additional bodies within the North/South Ministerial Council to provide further mutual benefit.

The party also says there should be a more joined-up approach to tackling the economic downturn on the island of Ireland.

In moving the motion, the SDLP's Dolores Kelly said that the north-south bodies had proved to be of benefit to both parts of Ireland, and that there was a clear duty on unionism, in having signed up to the Good Friday Agreement, to recognise the aspiration of the nationalist community for stronger links with the Republic of Ireland.

Alastair Ross of the DUP said that his party's amendment, which referred to balanced north-south and east-west co-operation while welcoming efficiencies imposed on north-south implementation bodies, sought to recognise economic realities and played into a general need to reduce quangos.

Sinn Féin's Barry McElduff said that an objective reading of the motion should recommend it to all parties in the house, but that the DUP were taking a bi-partisan approach.

Danny Kennedy of the Ulster Unionist Party said that the SDLP motion jumped the gun, and that the conclusions about the efficacy of north-south bodies should be made following the publication of their review.

The amended motion was passed by 45 to 44.

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