A four-member group is to be set up to monitor the activities of paramilitary operations after an agreement was signed by the British and Irish governments today.

Northern Ireland's Secretary of State James Brokenshire and Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan signed the document to establish the Independent Reporting Commission in Dublin this afternoon.

Northern Ireland's power-sharing administration will nominate two members to the Commission and the British and Irish governments will each provide one representative.

The organisation's brief will be to report annually on efforts to eliminate paramilitary activities and organised crime connected to Northern Ireland.

It was agreed to set up the Commission last year after controversy about the role of paramilitaries in two Belfast murders almost led to the collapse of the Stormont administration.  

For eight years, a four-member group, the Independent Monitoring Commission, monitored the activities of republican and loyalist paramilitary organisations but it was disbanded in 2011.

The identities of the new Independent Reporting Commission members will not be known for several months and the Dáil has not yet passed the legislation to facilitate the initiative.

It was Mr Brokenshire's first official visit to Dublin as Northern Ireland Secretary today.

He replaced Theresa Villiers as Northern Ireland Secretary in July after Theresa May became the new British prime minister.

Mr Brokenshire and Mr Flanagan said both governments did not want to see a return of a hard Northern Ireland border when the UK leaves the EU. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s Six One, Mr Brokenshire said the common travel area was "a strong and important issue".

He also said he is very clear there is no evidence to suggest that there is a majority in Northern Ireland that would support a united Ireland.

"I think recent indications are firm and strongly supportive of existing arrangements."