‘We must all do more to protect the relationship between Wales and Ireland’

Published 05/10/2023   |   Last Updated 17/10/2023   |   Reading Time minutes

Cultural, political and economic cooperation between Wales and Ireland needs more protection, says the Senedd’s International Relations Committee.

A report published today has found significant benefits being reaped from many projects that work in partnership across the Irish Sea.

But the Committee has concerns that good work could be undone after EU funding finishes and the plan for cooperation between the two countries comes to an end in 2025.

The Committee calls for both Welsh and Irish Governments to provide certainty and to commit funding beyond the end of the current Wales-Ireland shared statement and joint action plan.

Delyth Jewell MS, Chair of the Culture, Communications, Welsh Language, Sport, and International Relations Committee said:

“The stories and legends which link Wales and Ireland have withstood the test of time, as has our historic relationship – and though the foundation of that relationship has been shaken by Brexit, our Committee has found much evidence of the mutual benefit of an ongoing kinship between these nations. 

“Questions remain, though, as to how joint work between the nations will be resourced in future years. Clarity is required on this matter, and urgently – for it would be regrettable indeed were this to place any limits, or lead to any loss in the close ties that link the two countries.

“And it’s incumbent on all of us – governments and parliaments – to do more to protect that relationship.

“In spite of these challenges, our Committee was encouraged to see the significant goodwill, passion and enthusiasm which so many partners feel about continued cooperation across the Irish Sea.  From ports to marine technology, our nation’s answers to the most pressing crises facing our populations lie in joint working and innovation, and from our conversations with cultural organisations and artists, we have been gladdened to see that the rich tapestry which weaves and connects our national stories is as vibrant as ever.”


The Shared Statement and Joint Action Plan

The report, Wales-Ireland relations: Exploring an old relationship in a new age, looks at the Welsh Government’s approach to relations with Ireland, as set out in a document signed by both Welsh and Irish governments: The Shared Statement and Joint Action Plan for the period 2021-2025.

The Committee found broad support for the Statement and evidence of multiple examples of positive and effective cross-border cooperation. The Committee was, however, concerned that awareness of the Statement was low, and more work was needed in presenting the strategy clearly to key stakeholders. The report makes a number of recommendations to improve transparency and understanding of this approach, including that the Welsh Government should produce an annual report on its progress in developing Wales-Ireland relations.

The Committee also expressed support for using the Statement as a blueprint for relations with other countries in the future – assuming the above issues are addressed.



The need to plan further ahead than 2025 was mentioned by many of the stakeholders working across the Irish Sea, including projects working cooperatively in the life sciences, health and climate change sectors.

Evidence from Pembrokeshire County Council, which supports a number of EU-funded projects working cooperatively across Wales and Ireland, said: “…nothing of any great significance has been put in place to replace [EU programmes which are drawing to a close.]” 

“There is a risk, or even a likelihood, that many of the relationships that have been established between Welsh and Irish organisations through the programme will wither.

“There is now a vacuum in Welsh-Irish relations such that it is not at all clear how cross-border initiatives are to take place, other than at the sole initiative of individual organisations in Wales and in Ireland.”

The report recommends that the Welsh and Irish governments should commit funding to Wales-Ireland relations beyond 2025 without delay, to provide certainty to stakeholders and to ensure that opportunity costs are minimised.

The report is available here.