The establishment of a North/South parliamentary forum was envisaged by the Good Friday Agreement and the St Andrew’s Agreement. Judith is a member of the NSIPA Executive Committee and has been involved in many months of work to get agreement around the operation of the Association.
Speaking during the first plenary session, Judith recognised the moment in history and said ‘I hope that we can seize the opportunities that this body presents to us to build relationships as parliamentarians and to allow us to look at common issues and make positive changes for our future”.
Members of the NI Assembly and Houses of the Oireachtas will meet twice a year to discuss areas of mutual interest and the first topic was the issue of Child Protection.
Judith Cochrane MLA said: “As a mum of two young children this is clearly an issue of importance for me.
“The lack of uniformity in child protection procedures can create loopholes which may be exploited and this needs to be addressed. Cross-border sharing of information, such as details of those who may be at risk of offending, is also a crucial issue that needs to be addressed.
“We do not want to create a culture of fear, but we want to ensure that systems are in place to protect children from those who may want to cause them harm.
“The Alliance Party has been supportive of North/South co-operation and just recently the Leader and Justice Minister, David Ford, highlighted examples of joint working with a joint public protection seminar in which the assessment of risk regarding sex offenders was discussed.
“I hope that positive actions can be taken forward on these issues after today to provide benefits for people on both sides of the border”