Chief Minister Allan Bell MHK has today (Friday 21 June 2013) led a senior delegation from the Isle of Man Government attending the 20th British-Irish Council Summit in Northern Ireland.
Mr Bell took part in top-level discussions on a range of issues, including the current economic situation in member administrations, youth unemployment, energy costs and proposals for a new BIC Creative Industries work sector. 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.
As well as contributing to the Summit’s main agenda at the University of Ulster, the Chief Minister took the opportunity to hold informal discussions with his political counterparts, including UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, on matters of mutual interest.
Mr Bell, who was accompanied by Will Greenhow, Chief Secretary, and Della Fletcher, Director of External Relations, 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 took his place alongside the political leaders of other sovereign governments, devolved administrations and crown dependencies, joining delegations headed by First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness (Northern Ireland), Taoiseach Enda Kenny (Ireland), Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (United Kingdom), First Minister Carwyn Jones (Wales), First Minister Alex Salmond (Scotland), Chief Minister Ian Gorst (Jersey) and Chief Minister Peter Harwood (Guernsey).
In addition to assessing the current economic situation across member countries, the Council discussed energy costs and the challenge of moving to low-carbon energy sources while ensuring security of supply. The Council also welcomed the hosting of the Summit in Derry-Londonderry during the city’s tenure as UK City of Culture 2013, and agreed to establish a new BIC work sector to try to maximise the social and economic benefits arising from the creative industries.
The official communiqué from the 20th BIC Summit can be found here.