Friday 16 June 2023
Deputy Peter Ferbrache, President of the Policy & Resources Committee, today represented Guernsey at the 39th British Irish Council (BIC) Summit hosted in Jersey by the Government of Jersey. The Summit focused on political developments within BIC Member Administrations and a discussion on green and affordable housing.
The Summit was opened by Jersey's Chief Minister, Deputy Kristina Moore. The UK Government was represented by the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Minister for Intergovernmental Relations with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the Rt Hon Chris Heaton-Harris MP, also attending. The Irish Government was represented by An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD with An Tánaiste, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, Micheál Martin TD, also attending. The First Minister of Scotland, the Rt Hon Humza Yousaf MSP, represented the Scottish Government and the First Minister of Wales, the Rt Hon Mark Drakeford MS, represented the Welsh Government. The Isle of Man Government was represented by their Chief Minister, the Hon Alfred Cannan MHK.
Due to the ongoing political talks in relation to the power-sharing arrangements in Northern Ireland, there was no political representation from the Northern Ireland Executive present at the Summit.
Ministers discussed the latest political developments from across the Member Administrations since the last Summit in November 2022, which was hosted in Blackpool by the UK. Issues raised included the rising cost-of-living, the energy crisis, the impact of labour shortages on the economy, housing pressures, responding to climate change, the implementation of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement and the Northern Ireland Protocol and the continuing response to the war in Ukraine. Ministers also discussed green and affordable housing, including decarbonisation of heating, innovation in housing construction and availability of affordable housing to build economically thriving, environmentally sustainable and resilient local communities.
The summit also provided an opportunity to further bilateral discussions with the Government of Jersey on areas of future collaboration, including on healthcare, energy, digital government and connectivity.
President of the Policy & Resources Committee, Deputy Peter Ferbrache, said:
"It was a pleasure to attend the 39th British-Irish Council Summit in Jersey today, hosted by the Government of Jersey.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. The British-Irish Council was one of the institutions created under that Agreement with the objective of promoting positive and practical relationships among the people of these islands and to provide a forum for consultation and co-operation. Guernsey is proud of the role it plays in the BIC and the opportunity it provides to engage on a wide range of policy matters with Heads of Administration from across Ireland, the UK and the Crown Dependencies to promote the harmonious and mutually beneficial development of the totality of relationships among the people of these islands.
The Council had the opportunity to discuss green and affordable housing following a site visit to The Limes, a housing development in St Helier. This is a challenge facing all Member Administrations as we look to tackle housing pressures alongside the need to address energy sustainability and resilience.
I look forward to the BIC forum continuing to develop and evolve as the political relationships between its Member Administrations continue to adapt, and it remains an invaluable forum for Guernsey to be a part of."