CHIEF Minister Allan Bell MHK has yesterday (Monday, November 26, 2012) led a senior delegation from the Isle of Man Government attending the 19th British-Irish Council Summit in Wales.
Mr Bell and Tim Crookall MHK, Minister for the Department of Education and Children, took part in top-level discussions on a range of issues, including the state of the economy, efforts to address youth unemployment, and developments in Early Years Policy.
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 Cardiff Castle, the Chief Minister took the opportunity to hold discussions with his political counterparts from Jersey and Guernsey on matters of mutual interest, with particular focus on international tax compliance.
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.’
He added: ‘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 Crookall took their place alongside senior politicians from other sovereign governments, devolved administrations and crown dependencies, joining delegations headed by First Minister Carwyn Jones (Wales), Taoiseach Enda Kenny (Ireland), Secretary of State for Wales David Jones (United Kingdom), Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities Nicola Sturgeon (Scotland), First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness (Northern Ireland), Chief Minister Ian Gorst (Jersey) and Chief Minister Peter Harwood (Guernsey).
In addition to assessing the current economic situation, the Summit also discussed the vital role played by Early Years Policy in creating strong foundations for children and families to thrive.
Minister Crookall said: ‘The Council endorsed the principles that should underpin a BIC approach to Early Years, such as improved educational attainment, health and later life opportunities. The Isle of Man will continue to work closely with its neighbours on this issue and enjoy the significant benefits to be gained from sharing knowledge, best practice and research.’
The official communiqué from the 19th BIC Summit can be found here http://www.britishirishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/19%20-%20Nineteenth%20Summit%20-%20Cardiff%20-%2026%20November%202012%20.pdf