North/South Ministerial Council

The North/South Ministerial Council is a body established under the Good Friday Agreement to co-ordinate activity and exercise certain governmental powers across the whole island of Ireland. The Council takes the form of meetings between ministers from both Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and is responsible for twelve policy areas. Six of these areas are the responsibility of corresponding North/South Implementation Bodies; the body is based in the city of Armagh in Northern Ireland. The North/South Ministerial Council and the Northern Ireland Assembly are "mutually inter-dependent" institutions: one cannot exist without the other; when the Northern Ireland Assembly is suspended, responsibility for areas of co-operation fall to the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference. The Ministerial Council consists of representatives of both the Northern Ireland Executive and the Government of Ireland; the Ministerial Council may meet in either a plenary or, more sectoral format. In a plenary meeting a Northern Ireland delegation is led by the First Minister and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland while the Republic's delegation is led by the Taoiseach and Tánaiste.

A meeting in a sectoral format deals only with one particular policy area, consists of the minister from Dublin with responsibility for the area under discussion, two ministers from Northern Ireland, including the minister with the relevant competence. The Council is supported by a standing joint secretariat, consisting of members of the civil services of both Northern Ireland and the Republic; the Council has occasional meetings in an "institutional" format to consider other business and technical matters, such as appointments to boards. The Council is responsible for twelve "areas for co-operation". Six of these are in areas where co-operation must be agreed together but implemented separately in each jurisdiction. Six more are in areas where co-operation is agreed together and implemented through shared all-Ireland "implementation bodies". Areas for co-operation where implementation is carried out separately: Agriculture: Common Agricultural Policy issues and plant health, agricultural research and rural development.

Education: Education for children with special needs, educational under-achievement, teacher qualifications and school and teacher exchanges. Environment: Environmental protection, water-quality management and waste management. Health: Accident and emergency planning, co-operation on high-technology equipment, cancer research and health promotion. Tourism: The promotion of the island of Ireland as a tourist destination for overseas visitors via the establishment of a new company, known as Tourism Ireland. Transport: Co-operation on strategic transport planning including road and rail infrastructure and public transport services and road and rail safety; the six all-Ireland implementation bodies are: Waterways Ireland: Management of specific and chiefly recreational inland waterways. Food Safety Promotion Board: Food safety awareness. Special European Union Programmes Body: Management and oversight of EU programmes and common chapters of the National Development Plan and the Northern Ireland Structural Funds Plan.

The North/South Language Body: Promotion of the Irish and Ulster Scots languages through two separate agencies, Foras na Gaeilge and Tha Boord o Ulstèr-Scotch. InterTradeIreland: Northern Ireland-Republic of Ireland trade and business development. Foyle and Irish Lights Commission: The management and development of Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough and coastal lights through two separate agencies, The Loughs Agency and Lights AgencyIn addition to these bodies, Tourism Ireland, is a de facto seventh implementation body. Additional areas for co-operation may be added by agreement among the Council and with the endorsement of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Oireachtas. A new jointly owned agency, Lights Agency, was intended to replace the Commissioners of Irish Lights, funded from the UK Department for Transport-managed General Lighthouse Fund to provide coastal aids to navigation throughout the island of Ireland. However, complexities arising from the transfer of functions have meant that this has had to be reconsidered.

Twenty-one plenary meetings were held between 1999 and 2015: one each year from 1999 to 2002, 2007 to 2008. Meetings alternate between north and south in Armagh and Dublin. Sectoral meetings occur more at various locations; the level of co-operation differs across areas. For example, co-operation on tourism proceeded rapidly. On the other hand, there was little co-operation in the area of transport. At first because of resistance from the relevant minister in Northern Ireland and because, after the restoration of the Council following suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly, because the British and Irish governments had done much of the work during a period of direct rule. In 2007, the joint secretariat number 25 personnel, comprising 10 from Ireland and 15 from Northern Ireland. In 2010, the secretariat took up permanent office in Armagh. Budgets, staff numbers and headquarters for the six implementation bodies in 2008 were as follows: British-Irish Council British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference British–Irish Parliamentary Assembly Northern Ireland Assembly North/South Inter-Parliamentary Association North/South Ministerial Council official website

Markey Robinson

David Marcus Robinson, known as Markey Robinson, was an Irish painter and sculptor with a primitive representational style. His main passion was painting, but he produced sculptures and designed some stained glass panels. Robinson was born in the son of a house painter, he trained at the Belfast College of Art. He took part in boxing matches, under the name "Boyo Marko", worked as a merchant seaman. Robinson's first exhibitions were in Belfast during World War II, he became better known through over 20 exhibitions of his work at the Oriel Gallery in Dublin, where he used the upstairs framing room as his studio. As well as a steady stream of sales of individual pictures; the Royal Hibernian Academy was another prominent venue for exhibition of his work. He had a long record of one-man-shows in other venues both in Ireland and elsewhere. Markey's designs for stained glass can be seen over the entrance to the Oriel Gallery and in the window designed by him in the late 1970s. More than 400 Markey Robinson works can be seen in the online archive catalogues of Whytes Irish Art Auctions His paintings cover a wide range of subjects, but there are certain recurring features.

These may appear separately or in combination. Village scenes of white cottages in which the white gable end of the cottage is distinctive. There are no windows visible in these cottages. Women wearing dark shawls - no facial features are visible Sailboats with dark brown sails, or sometimes white sails Jugs feature prominently in his still life paintings Circus clownsHe painted the inhabited countryside with flat muted colour in abstract geometrical compositions. Robinson died in Belfast, aged 80. In May 2008, the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen TD opened a restropective exhibition of Robinson's work at the Oriel Gallery. Entitled Markey at the Oriel, the exhibition featured paintings and sculpture from the 1950s onwards. A 160-page catalogue on the artist by Paul O'Kelly accompanied the exhibition. In recent years his works have become popular, faked, as his style is easy to copy, his earlier works are more difficult to fake. Robinson was resourceful in sourcing painting materials and many of his works are on bits of plywood or cardboard discarded by shopkeepers.

Many of his best works were painted around the 1960s. Towards the end of his life Robinson painted many of the same paintings again and again as he was guaranteed a good price from them, it is estimated. He never kept any of his paintings, his daughter Annie is a popular artist and her works are inspired by Markey. "Markey - 30 years at the Oriel Gallery".. Published by The Oriel Gallery 1997 "Markey Robinson - A Life: The Retrospective".. Susan Stairs.. Published by Shortall Stairs publications 1988 "Markey at the Oriel".. Published by The Oriel Gallery 2008 A discussion from the Oriel Gallery site Whytes archive of Markey Robinson auction results