The Irish Regions Office: Activities

SUPPORTING THE IRISH REGIONS

The overall objective of the IRO is to facilitate the ongoing participation of Irelands sub-national authorities in the formulation of EU policy of relevance to the local and regional level and to create awareness of the implications and opportunities arising from the implementation of such policy. In carrying out its function the IRO performs the following key tasks, which are determined by the needs and priorities of the Irish Regions and their local authorities:

Information and intelligence

The IRO acts as the “eyes and ears” of Ireland’s sub-national authorities in Brussels. It uses its Brussels location to gather information and intelligence through formal and informal channels and reports to the sub-national authorities on issues of relevance. Key tasks include:

• Gathering information and intelligence on the development of EU policy and raising awareness of key issues among Irish sub-national authorities

• Providing information on the implementation of EU policy, including EU funding opportunities, partner searches, events and other supports and services

• Acting as a source of EU information and advice for sub-national government in Ireland

Monitoring and influencing policy

Where appropriate or where requested, the IRO assists authorities in raising concerns and/or putting forward views and opinions. Key tasks include:

• Monitoring the development of EU policy

• Facilitating the communication of Irish sub-national government’s needs, positions and responses to key EU decision-makers

Advice and support

In carrying out its functions the IRO has developed considerable expertise and experience in relation to EU matters, which is available to Ireland’s sub-national authorities. The resources of the IRO are available to:

• Provide general executive support to, and act as a contact point for Irish regions and their local authorities in relation to EU matters

• Assist, on a request basis, local and regional authorities with the development of EU projects

• Provide briefing programmes and assist with the provision of EU training

Networking

Central to its success in carrying out its functions is the location of the IRO in the heart of Brussels’ EU quarter. This facilitates the development of contacts and links with the EU Institutions and the establishment of strategic relationships with the many other representative organisations and associations with which the IRO has common interests. Key tasks include:

• Developing and maintaining close relations with the EU Institutions, regional representations and other EU bodies

• Participating in networks, forums, and other associations that help to advance the interest of Irish sub-national authorities

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SUPPORTING THE IRISH DELEGATION TO THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

The IRO was initially established to provide policy support to the members of the Irish Delegation to the Committee of the Regions and to support their Regional Authorities. In this role the IRO:

• Provides a direct presence for the Irish Delegation and its secretariat in Brussels;

• Provides members with information and briefings;

• Assists members in drafting CoR opinions and in making amendments;

• Assists Irish members when attending CoR meetings;

• Liaises with the CoR administration and promotes Irish sub-national interests within the CoR.

This service to the Irish members of the Committee of the Regions is supported by and operated in conjunction with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

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IRO ANNUAL WORK PROGRAMME

The IRO annual work programme is developed in cooperation with the Directors of the Regional Authorities and Regional Assemblies, and in conjunction with the designated city/county manager in their regions. The programme is then adopted by the Association of Irish Regions.

In implementing the work programme the IRO specifically works towards the needs of the eight Regional Authorities, the two Regional Assemblies and the 34 primary Local Authorities. The IRO provides information and briefing services to these authorities, at both political and officer level.

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Stephen Blair, Director Southern & Eastern Regional Assembly, speaking at the Open Days 2004 seminar at the Irish Regions Office

Stephen Blair, Director Southern & Eastern Regional Assembly, speaking at an Open Days seminar at the Irish Regions Office

Gerry Finn, Director BMW Regional Assembly, Jack Keys, Manager Cavan County Council, and Caroline Brady, Policy Officer, Border Regional Authority with Marion Harkin, MEP

Gerry Finn, Director BMW Regional Assembly, Jack Keys, Manager Cavan County Council, and Caroline Brady, Policy Officer, Border Regional Authority with Marion Harkin, MEP