Publication - FOI/EIR release

Correspondence between Cabinet Secretary for Constitution, External Affairs and Culture and British and Irish Council: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Published:
3 Nov 2021
Correspondence between Cabinet Secretary for Constitution, External Affairs and Culture and British and Irish Council: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202100236983
Date received: 7 Sep 2021
Date responded: 1 Oct 2021
Information requested

How many meetings (virtual or in person) has Angus Robertson, Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture, had with representatives of and/or the leadership of the British and Irish Council since he was appointed in May 2021 – to date?

How much correspondence (letters, emails, texts, calls or otherwise) has Angus Robertson exchanged with representatives of and/or the leadership of the British and Irish Council since he was appointed in May 2021 – to date?

Response

To clarify, the British Irish Council is led by the heads of the eight member administrations or ministers appointed to deputise for the head. Two summit meetings are held annually which are attended by the First Minister on behalf of the Scottish Government as Head of Administration. Portfolio ministers may also attend summit meetings dependant on the agenda. BIC falls within Mr Robertson's portfolio as Cabinet Secretary for External Affairs however, this does not necessarily mean he will be required to attend every summit meeting if the agenda dictates it will be more appropriate for other portfolio ministers to do so. The operation of BIC is overseen by a standing secretariat which liaises with a coordinator group made up of officials of each member administration and therefore the secretariat does not correspond directly with ministers.

Mr Robertson has had no meetings with the British Irish Council or representatives of, since his appointment in May 2021. It should be noted that only one meeting that Mr Robertson may have attended has taken place in that period. This was the Northern Ireland hosted Summit meeting on 11 June 2021 which Mr Robertson was unable to attend due to paternity leave. Jenny Gilruth, Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development deputised for Mr Robertson on that occasion.

The only correspondence Mr Robertson has received regarding BIC is from Scottish Government officials in their role as BIC coordinators. This was a background briefing note routinely sent to ministers who may be new to BIC. The note is attached for your convenience.

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