Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson has said the British-Irish Council (BIC) is not being used to its fullest extent, due to its next meeting being scheduled for after the Brexit process is due to begin.
East Antrim MLA Mr Dickson was speaking after quizzing First Minister Arlene Foster around the most recent BIC, as she updated MLAs in the Assembly chamber today (Tuesday). The talks, which took place in Cardiff last week, saw the First Minister and deputy First Minister discuss Brexit alongside the Secretary of State and Taoiseach.
"While it is welcome the First Minister attended the BIC, unlike the Taoiseach's all-island civic forum on Brexit, it appears the discussions were not as in-depth or all-encompassing as they could have been. The BIC is an important tool to use in the lead-up to any Brexit situation.
"But the Council is clearly not being used to its full extent. This is evident by the fact the next meeting of it is not scheduled until July, which is after Article 50 is due to be triggered. I welcome the First Minister's announcement today there may be more BIC meetings but I await to see if she follows-up on that pledge.
"Northern Ireland is set to be affected more than most regions by Brexit but we are least advanced in terms of putting into place mitigation measure to positively affect our circumstances, as well as having a clearly split Executive on the issue. It is vital opportunities to do so such as the BIC are not wasted."