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Chief Minister reflects on successful British-Irish Council Summit 15 December 2010

Chief Minister Tony Brown and UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick CHIEF Minister Tony Brown MHK says that hosting the 15th Summit meeting of the British-Irish Council provided an excellent opportunity to reinforce the Isle of Man’s economic value to its closest neighbours.

Mr Brown underlined the mutually beneficial relationship between the Island and the UK, in particular the City of London, during his opening address at this week’s event in Douglas. Reflecting on the success of the BIC Summit, the Chief Minister said it had been a great privilege to welcome political leaders from the governments of the UK, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Jersey and Guernsey.

The visiting delegations were led by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (UK), Taoiseach Brian Cowen (Ireland), First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness (Northern Ireland), Minister for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop (Scotland), deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones (Wales), Chief Minister Terry Le Sueur (Jersey) and Chief Minister Lyndon Trott (Guernsey).

The Isle of Man delegation was led by Chief Minister Tony Brown who hosted and chaired the BIC Summit. Also attending and contributing to the discussions were Treasury Minister Anne Craine MHK and Economic Development Minister Allan Bell MHK.

The Summit meeting was dominated by recent economic developments, including Ireland's entry into a programme of international financial support and the UK’s comprehensive spending review. Delegates discussed the measures and actions being undertaken across the eight member administrations to address current challenges and stabilise public finances, cut costs and boost employment.

Mr Brown described the British-Irish Council as a ‘unique forum’ which allowed the Isle of Man to take its place amongst the governments of the British islands and Ireland and to share knowledge at the highest level. He said it also afforded the Isle of Man ‘the respect and recognition needed to establish and strengthen our international identity,’ adding:

‘We have long recognised that we cannot succeed in isolation and must work with our neighbours if we are to provide our people with security, freedom, opportunities and a good quality of life.’

During the debate around the economy, Treasury Minister Anne Craine MHK outlined the Isle of Man’s efforts to achieve greater efficiencies, cost savings and increased economic revenue.

She said:

‘In common with all member administrations represented in the British-Irish Council, the Isle of Man is facing - and working to address - significant fiscal and economic challenges. We are all dealing, in one way or another, with the repercussions of the financial upheaval that has shaken the world in recent years. In looking to rebalance our finances we are taking a careful, planned and phased approach. While cutting government costs is essential and expected, the equally demanding challenge we all face is how to grow our economies in these uncertain conditions. I believe there is merit in looking for ways of working together to do this.’

The next BIC Summit will be hosted by the UK Government in 2011.

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