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Secretariat to British-Irish Council

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When the British-Irish Council was established in 1999, it was supported by a secretariat, based in Dublin and London, provided by the governments of the UK and Ireland.

In 2006, as part of the St Andrews Agreement, the two governments agreed to establish a standing secretariat ‘with a view to giving further impetus to its [the British-Irish Council] work’.

In 2010, the 14th Summit of the British-Irish Council, meeting in Guernsey, agreed that the new standing Secretariat would be hosted by the Scottish Government in Edinburgh.

The Secretariat was formally established in January 2012, jointly headed by officials from the governments of the UK and Ireland, and joined by officers (Stakeholder Engagement Managers) from the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government, and the Northern Ireland Executive.

The role of the British-Irish Council Secretariat is to support and facilitate the British-Irish Council in its work. This is primarily through organising and facilitating – at political level – Summit meetings and Ministerial meetings. In parallel, at official level, it services a range of Work Sector programmes in agreed areas of thematic activity (currently ten).

The Secretariat also ensures administrative accountability and governance for the Council. It also works implementing agreed reforms, and effectively communicating the work of the British-Irish Council.

The current Joint Heads of the Secretariat are Eddie Brannigan, Irish Government Joint Head (since Feb 2024) and William Sinclair, UK Government Joint Head (since Nov 2023).