Published on 11 April 2019

11 April 2019

Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman Marie Anderson and Irish Ombudsman Peter Tyndall have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to provide for ongoing co-operation on complaints about North-South Implementation Bodies.  The MoU will ensure that users of the services of these bodies, both north and south of the border, will be able to have complaints investigated efficiently by the appropriate independent Ombudsman.

The Office of the Ombudsman of Ireland and the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman receive complaints from people living in Northern Ireland and the Republic about the services provided by the North-South Implementation Bodies.  Both Ombudsmen also have jurisdiction in relation to complaints about access to information about these bodies.

The MoU strengthens existing arrangements between the two Offices, particularly in the context of Brexit and strengthened legislation governing the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman.

The North-South Implementation Bodies include those operating in the areas of food safety, trade, aquaculture and marine.

Under the MoU both Offices will:

  • Investigate and report on complaints in their respective jurisdictions,
  • Promote mutual communication and co-operation,
  • Ensure the rights and best interests of complainants are central to decisions on jurisdiction over complaints,
  • Strengthen practical arrangements for North-South Implementation Bodies in their handling of complaints.
  • Reflect human rights values and principles

Both Offices are also in regular discussion regarding the potential impact of Brexit on users of public services in their jurisdictions.  Ensuring that service users continue to have access to redress regarding public services is at the heart of these discussions.  Areas including cross-border healthcare arrangements have been a focus for consideration.

END

Note for Editors:

Six North-South Implementation Bodies were established under the Belfast Agreement of 1998. These bodies operate in the areas of food safety, trade and business development, language, aquaculture and marine, special EU programmes and inland waterways. Section 50 of the British-Irish Agreement Act, 1999, which provides for the creation of these bodies, brings the Implementation Bodies within the jurisdiction of the Office of the Ombudsman and the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman.  The Act provides for liaison and co-operation between the Office of the Ombudsman and its Northern Ireland counterpart, in dealing with complaints against these bodies. The jurisdiction of the Office of the Ombudsman covers "actions taken in the State by or on behalf of" one of the bodies and a parallel provision applies in the case of the Northern Ireland Ombudsman.

The North-South Implementation Bodies are:

  • Foyle, Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission
  • InterTrade Ireland
  • The North/South Language Body (The Ulster-Scots Agency / Foras na Gaeilge)
  • SafeFood
  • Special European Union Programmes Body
  • Waterways Ireland
  • Tourism Ireland
MOU with the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman
Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman Marie Anderson and Irish Ombudsman Peter Tyndall