Chief Minister Allan Bell MHK has today (Friday, June 22) led a senior delegation from the Isle of Man Government attending the 18th British-Irish Council Summit in Scotland.
Mr Bell and Phil Gawne MHK, Minister for the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture, took part in top-level discussions on a range of issues, including the state of the economy, efforts to stimulate youth employment, and developments in marine energy technologies.
The BIC, established under the terms of the Good Friday peace agreement, is the only international forum comprising the governments of the UK, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey. It plays an important role in developing positive links between member countries and provides a platform for consultation and co-operation on matters of mutual interest.
The Isle of Man Ministers were accompanied by Will Greenhow, Chief Secretary, Della Fletcher, Director of External Relations, and Dr Ken Milne, the Isle of Man’s Senior Manager for Energy Policy.
As well as contributing to the Summit’s main agenda at Stirling Castle, the Chief Minister took the opportunity to hold one-to-one discussions with Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny, and Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond. Mr Bell also held talks with Michael Moore MP, the UK’s Secretary of State for Scotland, Ed Davey MP, UK Secretary of State for Energy, and his political counterparts from Jersey and Guernsey.
Mr Bell said:
‘The British-Irish Council has always been a valuable forum for the Isle of Man, allowing us to take our place alongside the governments of our neighbouring islands and discuss common challenges at the highest level. It affords us the respect and recognition we need to further enhance the Island’s international identity, and provides an opportunity to reaffirm our economic value to our closest trading partners. The additional value of attending events such as the BIC Summit lies in the side meetings where we can strengthen personal relationships with the leaders of other countries and highlight the Isle of Man’s position on specific issues.’
The Chief Minister and Minister Gawne took their place alongside senior politicians from other sovereign governments, devolved administrations and crown dependencies, joining delegations headed by First Minister Alex Salmond (Scotland), Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore MP (UK), Taoiseach Enda Kenny (Ireland), First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness (Northern Ireland), First Minister Carwyn Jones (Wales), Chief Minister Ian Gorst (Jersey) and Chief Minister Peter Harwood (Guernsey).
In addition to assessing the current economic situation and how governments are working to rebalance their finances, the Summit also discussed strategies to combat youth unemployment, and activities to support the development and deployment of marine energy technologies.
Minister Gawne said:
‘Maximising the potential of wind, wave and tidal power remains an important element of the Isle of Man Government’s renewable energy strategy. Our central location in the Irish Sea opens up exciting possibilities and we are committed to working alongside other BIC countries towards the cost-effective development of natural energy resources.’
The official communiqué from the 18th BIC Summit can be found here