Scotland-Ireland bilateral review report

The report and recommendations for this review set out current areas of bilateral cooperation and identify opportunities for cooperation and joint initiatives in new areas, which are devolved to Scotland, over the next 5 years from 2021 to 2025.

Annex 1: Recommendations

Progress on the recommendations in this report will be monitored by the Steering Committee and reported to ministers annually, when new recommendations
will be agreed.

Government to Government

  • The Taoiseach and Scottish First Minister will meet at bi-annual British-Irish Council summits, and will ensure that high-level contact is maintained by their ministers.
  • As leads on the bilateral relationship, Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for External Affairs will maintain ongoing contact, and will meet annually to specifically review progress on the recommendations of this review, and agree new recommendations.
  • The Bilateral Review Steering Committee, made up of relevant senior officials from Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs and Scottish Government External Relations Directorate, will meet at least twice annually to monitor progress.
  • Both Scotland and Ireland remain committed to the vision and mandate of the British-Irish Council (BIC), established under the Belfast/ Good Friday Agreement, and will work to enhance collaboration through the BIC, where possible.
  • The Consulate General of Ireland in Edinburgh and the Scottish Government Office in Dublin will work with the Houses of the Oireachtas (Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann) and the Scottish Parliament to support increased contacts between parliamentarians, and cross-party engagement in our joint work.
  • Irish and Scottish health officials will continue to work together through the Health Forum and deliver the previously planned secondments delayed by COVID-19. Both governments will maintain their good cooperation on efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, seeking mutually beneficial collaboration in that task where appropriate.
  • Building on our collaboration in Malawi, Irish and Scottish officials will have an exchange on international development issues in 2021, including on Ireland's policy on international development, 'A Better World' and its focus on issues of gender equality, climate action, governance and reducing humanitarian need. 

Business and Economic

  • Both governments will support relevant business-to-business networks in their work to build personal and business connections between Scotland and Ireland. 
  • The Consulate General of Ireland in Edinburgh and the Scottish Government Office in Dublin will work with our economic agencies, chambers of commerce, local authorities, and the British-Irish Chamber of Commerce to deliver a range of events and activities that will:
    • Focus on the shared challenges – particularly for  SMEs – posed by COVID-19.
    • Share lessons learned and provide opportunities for enhanced business-to-business connections. 
    • Determine how the wider business community wants the bilateral relationship to develop post-COVID and in the changing international context. 
  • In 2021, and working with a wide range of business and local government partners, including the Local Government Information Unit, we will focus on shared challenges and lessons learned for SMEs in both domestic and export markets, and on local government and business efforts to support and rebuild sustainable town centres. 
  • Both governments will jointly host a trade conference, led by Ireland's Consulate General in Edinburgh and the Scottish Government Office in Dublin, to hear views from a wide range of stakeholders including business representative organisations, chambers of commerce, and other enterprise stakeholders.
  • In 2021, the Consulate General of Ireland in Edinburgh and the Scottish Government Office in Dublin will support the formation of a Scotland-Ireland Trade Taskforce. The Taskforce will engage with public and private sectors to promote the development of Irish-Scottish trade relations. The format and remit of the Taskforce will be determined following consultations with trade agencies, industry representatives and chambers of commerce.
  • Ireland and Scotland will cooperate on the research and development of offshore renewable energy technologies, to enable these technologies to become commercially deployable, particularly in the areas of floating wind and wave energy. 
  • Ireland will engage with the Scottish Government on their approach to the wellbeing economy and just transition in Climate Change policy. 
  • Both the Consulate General of Ireland in Edinburgh and the Scottish Government Office in Dublin will host focussed business and trade events, with annual showcases focussed on St Patrick's and St Andrew's Days.

Community and Diaspora

  • Ireland and Scotland will deliver two shared diaspora and heritage events in Irish Embassies and Consulates in the USA and Canada in 2021, in cooperation with the Scottish Government's network of offices in North America.
  • The Consulate General in Edinburgh will deliver an awareness campaign in Scotland to increase engagement with the Government of Ireland's Emigrant Support Programme.
  • The Scottish Government Office in Dublin will further enhance its reach into and connections with the Scottish diaspora in Ireland, through its programme of winter festival events.
  • The Consulate General in Edinburgh will expand the celebration of Brigid's Day year on year across Scotland following the successful 2020 event held in the Glasgow Women's Library.
  • Scotland will engage with and learn from Ireland's diaspora policy experience through engagement with the Department of Foreign Affairs Irish
    Abroad Unit in Dublin and the varied approaches
    of Ireland's diplomatic missions. 
  • The Department of Foreign Affairs will support Donegal County Council's Donegal Connect event in Glasgow, planned for 2021.


  • The Consulate General of Ireland in Edinburgh and the Scottish Government Office in Dublin will fund high level artistic joint programming in support of Colmcille 1500 celebrations (Dec 2020-21), showcasing contemporary work and performance reflecting this shared international legacy.
  • Ireland and Scotland will build on the excellent structured cooperation between the Office of Public Works and Historic Environment Scotland (HES), particularly focused on protecting monuments from the effects of climate change, and conservation skills development. A new memorandum of understanding between HES
    and Ireland's Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage will facilitate exchange of knowledge and structured cooperation in addressing the impacts of climate change on our built and archaeological heritage.
  • The Scottish Government Office in Dublin will work with Poetry Ireland and the Scottish Poetry Library to develop an exchange programme bringing together schools and young people to co-create work and performance.
  • The Consulate General of Ireland in Edinburgh and the Scottish Government Office in Dublin will celebrate Scottish-Irish co-productions in both Irish/ Gàidhlig and English in an online TV festival
    in partnership with the Celtic Media Festival.
  • Ireland and Scotland will build on annual collaboration between Showcase Scotland
    and Tradfest to promote the best in our
    musical traditions.
  • The Consulate General of Ireland in Edinburgh will support Conradh na Gaeilge to increase the profile of their Irish language activity in Scotland.
  • The Embassy of Ireland in London and Scotland House in London will host, in alternate years, an annual celebration of our shared cultural affinity.
  • The Consulate General of Ireland in Edinburgh and the Scottish Government Office in Dublin will jointly host an event in 2021 to share best practice in increasing participation and inclusivity in sport.

Academic and Research Links

  • The Scottish Government and the Government of Ireland (through the Department of Foreign Affairs) will partner with the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) and the Royal Irish Academy (RIA), to jointly fund structured research collaboration to harness the expertise of their fellowships. Across the five thematic areas of this review, this will support policy development, with appropriate support from Irish and Scottish funders.
  • Ireland and Scotland will pilot a structured collaboration between Irish and Scottish researchers and officials coordinated by the Scottish Policy and Research Exchange (SPRE), focussed on shared challenges identified in each of the five themes of the review.
  • The Consulate General of Ireland in Edinburgh and the Scottish Government Office in Dublin will facilitate and host academic collaboration events to enhance existing research networks and support new activity.
  • The Consulate General of Ireland in Edinburgh and the Scottish Government Office in Dublin will work with partners to establish networks for our respective graduate cohorts and alumni, with a specific focus on networking opportunities for young professionals and early career researchers.
  • Irish and Scottish education officials will finalise a new framework for cooperation with the aim of enhancing existing collaboration and developing new initiatives in the areas of further education, higher education and research and innovation. Finding ways to maintain and encourage student mobility between Ireland and Scotland, including investigating the development of dedicated mobility programmes between Scottish and Irish higher education institutions, will be a priority.

Rural, Coastal and Island Communities

  • The Scottish Government and the Government of Ireland, working with the University of the Highlands and Islands and Údarás na Gaeltachta, will convene a conference in 2021 to develop joint activity to address the opportunities and challenges of living in rural, coastal and island communities, including how adaptation to the COVID-19 context informs policy planning.
  • The Marine Institute and Marine Scotland will continue formal collaboration to pursue mutually beneficial research. The Scottish Government has highlighted the benefits of collaboration on the blue economy, aquaculture and on the potential for research exchanges between respective marine parks and innovation centres.
  • Teagasc (Ireland's Agriculture and Food Development Authority) and Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) will build on their existing research collaboration, encompassing a wider range of research themes and activities, and include advisory and education functions, in addition to expanding relationships with other institutions.
  • Existing and potential future collaborations between Scottish and Irish forestry sectors will focus on increasing forestry's role in addressing climate change challenges, growing forest economies, afforestation, creating green jobs and contributing to the recovery from the COVID-19 emergency.
  • Based on shared interests in building sustainable, self-sufficient island communities using innovations in renewable energy projects to address island depopulation, the Government of Ireland and the Scottish Government will seek to continue mutual exchange and lesson sharing in these areas.
  • The Consulate General of Ireland in Edinburgh and the Scottish Government Office in Dublin will work with business organisations and local authorities to encourage further twinning arrangements between Scotland and Ireland where these can add value to existing and new links.
  • All recommendations stemming from this joint bilateral review, both those in this report, and those that will be agreed by both governments at each annual review, will include a focus on rural, coastal and island communities.
Tobermory, Isle of Mull.
© VisitScotland / Kenny Lam
See image title for description



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