MPs have called for the untapped potential of the political bodies created by the Good Friday Agreement to be used to boost relations between the UK and Ireland after Brexit.
The Assembly of the British Irish Parliament, which brings together lawmakers from Westminster and the Oireachtas parliament in Dublin, said a reduction in contact between officials and politicians after Brexit has negatively affected the relationship between the UK and Ireland.
The BIPA held its 62nd plenary session in Co Cavan this week.
A new report from the Assembly’s Sovereign Affairs Committee highlighted that, before Brexit, UK and Irish representatives met regularly at official and ministerial level during EU proceedings.
He pointed out that the offices of their respective delegations were located next to each other in Brussels.
These regular contacts provided opportunities to build informal relationships that aided mutual understanding and cooperation, the committee said.
He has now called on both governments to maximize the potential of other structures, established under the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement, to find new ways to increase informal relations.
He said formal meetings of both sides through the British Irish Council and the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference should be “less episodic” and not just focus on crisis events.
Lawmakers said their own body, the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, could also be developed as a forum to address bilateral issues.
Committee chair Senator Emer Currie said: “Regular contact, formal and informal, has been the bedrock of the relationship between our two countries, and it was stronger when it was more regular.
“It took Brexit to realize how important it had been.
“We do not believe that new bodies or institutions are necessary to recreate the contact we had.
“Instead, regularizing and prioritizing the meetings of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement institutions, as well as expanding their scope, should go a long way to further deepening our close and historic ties.
“The very nature of Brexit means a potential divergence in law and regulation.
“We need a plan to generate understanding and cooperation even if we choose different paths.”