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British-Irish Council Summit 18 November 2009

THE Isle of Man’s participation in the latest summit meeting of the British-Irish Council was a useful opportunity to discuss economic and financial challenges with the leaders of neighbouring countries, according to Chief Minister Tony Brown MHK.

Mr Brown attended the 13th BIC summit, held in Jersey on Friday (November 13, 2009), with Education Minister Anne Craine MHK, Director of External Relations Della Fletcher and Manx Language Officer Rosemary Derbyshire. The main theme was indigenous languages, the Island being praised for its work in reviving Manx Gaelic. But the meeting also focussed on the economic challenges facing all the BIC member governments – the UK, Eire, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

The Chief Minister spoke to Welsh Secretary Peter Hain MP, representing the UK, the Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen, Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Welsh First Minister Rhodri Morgan, Guernsey’s Chief Minister Lyndon Trott and the Chief Minister of Jersey Terry Le Sueur.

The Chief Minister explained:

‘The British- Irish Council has always been a valuable forum for the Isle of Man, allowing us to take our place amongst the governments of the British Isles and discuss matters of mutual interest at the highest level. Now that the Island is facing financial challenges in common with our neighbours, this opportunity to exchange views and information is more important than ever.’

The Education Minister was also able to discuss matters of mutual interest with BIC political counterparts. Mrs Craine said:

‘The Isle of Man was praised for the way in which it is progressing the use of the Manx language across the community by introducing it into business and social spheres. It was gratifying that following a recent visit to the Island by delegates from Guernsey, that they in particular voiced their appreciation of the support and encouragement they had gained from our example to make greater strides in the development of their own language. The summit meeting was a valuable opportunity to reaffirm relationships and the commitment with our Celtic cousins in Ireland, Scotland and Wales to share our experiences in developing and embedding ethnic languages. It is does us good to be able to benchmark ourselves against others and I believe the Island is making good progress in this regard.’

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