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Irish chief given RIBA council role to forge closer relations

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The RIBA has decided the Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland's president should be accorded observer status on its council in order to develop closer ties between the two organisations.

The main reasoning behind the decision was the peace process in Northern Ireland, an area where the overlap in membership is extensive.

RIBA president Paul Hyett proposed the move at last Wednesday's council meeting and the motion was carried unanimously. 'The RIAI does not have the size of membership that enables them to make its voice heard on the international stage, ' Hyett told the meeting. 'We are looking to develop a closer working relationship with it and develop joint meetings and initiatives that will help get its voice heard. The RIBA is keen to illustrate that we are keeping up with the improved political situation in Ireland, ' he added.

In the same debate, the council also agreed to a similar observer role for the president of the British Institute of Architectural Technicians. 'We have also been improving our working relationship with the BIAT, 'Hyett said. 'This is in no way an effort to dilute the important title of architect, ' he stressed.

lRIBA councillor Simon Foxell, the author of the proposed PFI policy paper, has called on the institute to develop a 'coherent response' to the controversial procurement method. Foxell said members are dependent on the council giving clear leadership on the vital issue of how to ensure design is central on PFI schemes. And he stressed that the RIBA must do more in championing the role of architecture to the government's procurement policy decision-makers. 'We need to support the partnership between public and private finance, ' Foxell said. 'PFI is a massive issue at the moment and it is very important we have a strong voice.'

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