The League's Director of Information was interviewed on Manx Radio this week ahead of a British – Irish Parliamentary Association conference due to take place on the island later this year. Bernard Moffatt was interviewed on the programme to find out what the position of the League is in relation to closer cooperation between the different Irish and British parliamentary jurisdictions and whether he thought there were any benefits.
In the interview Mr Moffatt said that following devolution across the UK, "these sorts of institutions are more important" than they were in the past and that they had probably helped the island's government to see the wider picture on particular issues than they might have done previously". However, Mr Moffatt explained that from a Celtic League perspective "we would prefer an institution that brings together the Celtic countries", but the British – Irish Parliamentary Association - and similar organisations - go a considerable way towards that. Though Mr Moffatt pointed out that the League is not particularly a fan of promoting ties with a `wider dimension' than the Celtic countries.
Mr Moffatt pointed out that links should be strengthened between parliamentarians in "adjacent jurisdictions" rather than in working with organisations like the Commonwealth. He added that: "... as long as there is a strict monitoring of the interchanges of this type of assembly and it doesn't become just a talking shop and an excuse for a holiday, then I think they should be promoted and there should be more Manx involvement in it. After all the Isle of Man is uniquely placed, it is right at the heart of the British Isles and we are uniquely placed geographically to be a centre."
The British Irish Parliamentary Association (BIPA) that is due to meet in the Isle of Man is different from the better known British - Irish Council. The BIPA was established in 1990 to specifically bring together members of the Irish and UK Parliaments and the British Irish Council was established in 1998 as a result of the Good Friday Agreement.
The British Irish Council met together last month in Edinburgh and for the first time Cornwall was represented on the Council as an observer member. It was suggested that Cornwall became an observer member of the Council last year by the (Plaid Cymru) Welsh representative on the British Irish Council. Brittany is now the only Celtic country that does not have a presence on the British Irish Council.
At their 2009 Annual General Assembly (AGM) in Cornwall/Kernow the Celtic League discussed a draft paper, written by the League's General Secretary, entitled "A Celtic Council". The paper set out various possible models of cooperation that could be followed in order to establish more formal links between the Celtic countries. The issue will be further discussed at the League's 2010 AGM in the Isle of Man later this year.
British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly (BIPA)
Manx Radio Broadcast
This article prepared for Celtic News by Rhisiart Tal-e-bot General Secretary Celtic League. For follow-up comment or clarification contact:
Tel: 0044 (0)1209315884 M: 0044(0)7787318666 rhisiart.talebot [at] ... gensec [at] ...
Issued by the Director of Information Celtic League