Spotlight on British Political landscape


How devolution has shaped politics and the future of the British political landscape will be debated on Friday (5 November), when the Scottish Parliament hosts the Irish-Scottish Forum.

Organised by the University of Aberdeen, in association with Queen’s University, Belfast, the forum brings together around 80 academic experts, civil servants, journalists and policy makers from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Delegates will gather in Holyrood’s Committee Rooms to explore and compare the consequences of devolution on matters including: economic powers, relations with Westminster, and the voice of language and culture.

Speakers include Henry McLeish, former First Minister of Scotland; Rhodri Morgan AM, former First Minister of Wales; Lord Alderdice, former Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly; Paul Murphy MP, former Secretary of State for Wales; Lord Sewel, former Scottish Office Minister; Austen Morgan, barrister and Belfast Agreement expert; and the writer and activist Pat Kane.

Deputy Presiding Officer Alasdair Morgan MSP, who will chair the morning’s plenary session, said:

“The Scottish Parliament is delighted to host this prestigious forum which brings together an impressive calibre of expertise and experience from the fields of politics, academia and civil society. I look forward to some interesting and enlightening discussion as we consider the future of devolution in the UK and reflect and compare experiences of the past eleven years.”

Professor Cairns Craig, Director, AHRC Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies, University of Aberdeen, said:

“The future relationship between Cardiff, Belfast, and Edinburgh is the big political issue facing all three devolved nations. We are delighted that the Parliament is hosting this timely and independent policy exchange.”


The Irish-Scottish Forum was established in 2000 to extend the academic research of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Centre for Irish and Studies Scottish at the University of Aberdeen. Funded by the AHRC, the events bring academic specialists together with analysts, journalists, policy-makers and politicians to explore issues relevant to all three devolved nations. Previous Forums held in Aberdeen, Dublin and Belfast, have examined the dawn of devolution (2000) strategies for inward investment (2007), government and culture (2009), and ecological implications spatial planning (2009).


9.15 Welcome: Cairns Craig (Aberdeen)

9.20 Session 1: ‘Parliaments and the Judiciary’

Chair: Cairns Craig (Aberdeen)

John Williams (Aberystwyth), Austen Morgan (Barrister, N. Ireland), Christopher Gane (Aberdeen)

Session 2: ‘Inter-parliamentary Institutions’

Chair: John Osmond (Institute of Welsh Affairs)

Paul Murphy MP (House of Commons), Graham Walker (Queen’s, Belfast), Paul Docherty (British Council)

11.20 Plenary Session 1: ‘The Workings of Devolution’

Chair: Alasdair Morgan MSP (Deputy Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament)

Henry McLeish (former First Minister of Scotland), Rhodri Morgan AM (former First Minister of Wales), Lord Alderdice (former Speaker, Northern Ireland Assembly)

14.00 Session 3: ‘Devolved Governments and Central Government’:

Chair: David Mc Crone (Edinburgh University) Lord Sewel of Gilcomstoun (House of Lords), Paul Cairney (Aberdeen), Elin Royles (Aberystwyth)      

Session 4 : ‘The Economic Powers of Devolved Governments’:

Chair: Cairns Craig (Aberdeen) Eurfyl ap Gwilym (Cardiff); Graham Brownlow (Queen’s, Belfast); David Heald (Aberdeen)

16.00 Plenary Session 2: ‘Culture, Language and Media’,

Chair: Joyce McMillan (drama critic and journalist)

John Kirk (Queen’s, Belfast), Pwyll ap Sion (Bangor), Pat Kane (writer and activist), Adrienne Scullion (Glasgow)

You can now get in touch with the Parliament by text message. Our interactive service enables you to get the name of your MSP by sending your postcode, lets you ask questions about the Parliament and its work, and enables you to request a selection of free leaflets. The number to take advantage of is 07786 209888. Texts are charged at standard network rates. More details can be found on our Text Service page.

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