Past hostilities forgotten as hospitality flows in Dublin
MUCH GOOD work was done by the politicians from both jurisdictions at the recent meeting of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly. Discussions focused on strengthening business links between Ireland and Britain, but the networking continued after the formal sessions ended.
The visiting parliamentarians from Britain and Northern Ireland, along with their colleagues from the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey, were billeted in the Shelbourne Hotel, so they didn’t have far to go for their deliberations in Leinster House.
On the first night of their stay, they dined in nearby Hugo’s restaurant on Merrion Row, an establishment frequented by Enda Kenny as it’s just around the corner from his office in Government Buildings.
Highlight of their stay was a reception in Áras an Uachtaráin, followed by a banquet in Dublin Castle.
President Higgins, a former member of the body, treated the visitors to a Michael D. special, speaking at length and with considerable passion on Anglo-Irish relations.
“It was a tour de force. They were blown away by his eloquence,” one TD told us.
“Drinks and light refreshments were laid on, but it was all quite formal. They had Guinness, but it wasn’t served in pint glasses. I had what might be called a ‘medium’. I couldn’t get over the quality of it – St James’s Gate must send up a special barrel of the stuff.”
After the short reception, the group repaired to St Patrick’s Hall in Dublin Castle – it was not lost on the British contingent that they were dining where their queen had dined a year earlier. An Bord Bia used the occasion to showcase the best of Irish produce.
The next plenary meeting of the parliamentary assembly takes place in Glasgow. Laurence Robertson, Conservative MP for Tewkesbury, will have his work cut out to match the show put on in Dublin by his co-chairman, Donegal deputy Joe McHugh.
Incidentally, an indication of the healthy state of relations between the two jurisdictions could be seen during a break in the plenary session when Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams was spotted buying tea and buns at the Leinster House 2000 coffee dock and carrying them back on a tray to a group which included Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson and Julian King, formerly HM ambassador to the Republic.