Coveney to address DUP conference

Mon, Nov 19, 2012, 00:00

A Fine Gael politician is to make history as the first Irish Government Minister to address a DUP conference.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney is to be the keynote speaker at the opening event of the two-day conference in Belfast this coming Friday.

He is expected to brief senior DUP personnel – including MPs, MEPs and Stormont Ministers – on reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy in the context of Ireland’s presidency of the EU, which comes into effect on January 1st.

It is being seen as a reciprocal gesture after the DUP’s Jonathan Bell accepted an invitation to address the Fine Gael ardfheis earlier this year.

Diane Dodds MEP said it was important to engage with “all actors within the Common Agricultural Policy reform process . . . Simon Coveney has over the last number of months prepared himself for the task ahead. He has visited other parts of the UK in recent weeks, and indeed has visited and spoken to many of the lead member states.

“He has also built strong relations with the [European] agricultural commissioner Dacian Ciolos and members of the European parliament.

“As the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy enter critical stages in negotiations, there is a lot at stake for all involved.”