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Statement by Ian Paisley (DUP) on the ninth British-Irish Council Summit, Stormont, Belfast, (16 July 2007)

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Text: Ian Paisley... Page compiled: Brendan Lynn

Statement by Ian Paisley, then First Minister of Northern Ireland and leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), on the ninth British-Irish Council Summit, Stormont, Belfast, (16 July 2007)


"This is the first time that the British Irish Council Summit has been held in Northern Ireland. This is highly significant.

We are determined to work closely with the British Government and with our sister devolved administrations, not only for our mutual benefit but also for the benefit of the British Isles as a whole. I hope that the work of the BIC will be a fruitful and helpful exercise in building on existing relationships and in building new relationships. I am pleased that all members of the BIC have agreed in principle to the establishment of a standing secretariat which will service the council. This has been one of our key goals in developing the work of the Council and strengthening links throughout the British Isles.

Responsibility is now firmly back in the hands of local people. However, we face many challenges. We need to strengthen our economy, reform our public services, attract inward investment and be more innovative if we are to compete successfully in an increasingly competitive global environment. These are issues that concern all the delegations gathered here today. They will require fresh thinking and brave leadership.

The British Irish Council has an important role to play in promoting positive, practical relationships. We want to translate this vision into real and tangible benefits for the people.

Much more can be achieved but to achieve this we need commitment and determination to work together. I am determined, committed and prepared to graft hard to obtain that benefit. I believe this is a determination that is shared by all the other administrations.

The recent terror attacks and terrorist activity in Scotland and London serve as a warning to us all of the new dangers that we face. Working together to defeat international terrorism is another serious challenge.

We are confident that this new energy and commitment will help to give further impetus to the work of the Council in enhancing East-West relationships for the benefit of all. With this in mind, the British Irish Council has tasked the Secretariat, in consultation with Member Administrations, to undertake a strategic review of the Council's work programmes, working methods and support arrangements and report back as soon as possible.

We are looking forward to the continued help and support of the Member Administrations in developing the work of the Council and in making the most of this unique institution.

One of greatest failings of the last administration was the clear bias towards North-South cooperation compared with East-West cooperation. Since the return of devolution the DUP has followed through on its electoral commitments to build the East-West axis as well as North-South co-operation for the benefit of Northern Ireland.

The series of meetings held today in Stormont represents a fulfilling of those electoral pledges. It is important that we work with our neighbouring administrations so as methods of best practice can be discussed and implemented. The very senior delegations sent by each administration represent the importance of these discussions. Our Ministers will continue to have discussions with their counterparts throughout the British Isles on a range of matters.

We are grateful to the Speaker of the Assembly and his staff for facilitating this meeting. A word of thanks is also in order to the representatives of each Administration for agreeing to participate in this summit."


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