You were right to report (AJ 10.10.02) that my initiative to invite the president of the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland (RIAI) to join our council meetings as an observer was greeted with unanimous support by the RIBA Council but, with respect, you did not set out my reasons correctly.
For me, the issue is simple: on the one hand, we must always maintain our respect for the independence of the RIAI. That said, we have much to gain from maintaining close ties with our friends in the Republic, and it was in this spirit that I made the recommendation to council. Of course, the RIAI and the RIBA will, through closer cooperation, each gain increased influence on the international stage, and that is welcome. But the main purpose is to ensure an appropriate and indeed hopefully even closer relationship between our two institutes. That, it seems, must be in the interests of both our members and architecture within our two countries.
It should be noted that the RIAI already has major influence on the international stage, a fact particularly evidenced by the work of a series of prominent RIAI council members and past presidents of that institute - for example, Eoin O'Cofaigh was also a recent president of the Architects Council of Europe, and Peter Hanna, who is a council member of the Union of International Architects. In addition, Adrian Joyce, practice director of the RIAI and member of the Executive Board of ACE, who has just presented an excellent paper on the new strategy and vision for ACE.
I should also point out that the RIAI did have a place on the RIBA Council, with voting rights until the mid-1970s. This idea is not, therefore, new - it merely takes us part way to a position which was previously enjoyed.
It is also important to note that the RIAI has, in recent years, developed a much closer relationship with the Royal Society of Ulster Architects - that again is welcome, and ever closer links and cooperation in that respect are surely to be encouraged.
Paul Hyett, RIBA president