Noel Whelan: Anglo-Irish relations hit a new low

Recent meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference shows up divisions

Minister for Justice Charles Flanagan and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney hold their press conference on the street after the British failed to provide a room following a meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference in London last month. Photograph: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

Minister for Justice Charles Flanagan and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney hold their press conference on the street after the British failed to provide a room following a meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference in London last month. Photograph: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

It was curious last week to see Irish Ministers on their own holding an open-air press conference at Westminster trying to talk up what they had just discussed at a meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference. That our Ministers had to do their press event outside in the midst of a heatwave without their British colleagues beside them was indicative of the frosty state of Anglo-Irish relations.

So determined was the British government to downplay the fact that this ministerial conference had met at all that British ministers declined to do a joint press conference with their Irish colleagues, and it seems weren’t even prepared to provide the use of a room in Whitehall in which the Irish Ministers could meet the press alone.

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