Isle of Man strengthening international relationships
by Richard Parslow
The Isle of Man Government is continuing to demonstrate its commitment towards international development by strengthening its relationship with one of Britain's smallest Overseas Territories.
The Island is this week hosting a two-day visit by Alex Mitham, an officer at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who is set to become the 22nd Administrator of Tristan da Cunha.
Mr Mitham will travel to the remote island in the South Atlantic Ocean in September to take up his new duties, which include serving as President of the Island Council.
As part of his preparations for the role, Mr Mitham is spending two days in the Isle of Man to gain an insight into various aspects of Island life.
He was welcomed to the Island on Tuesday by Chief Secretary Will Greenhow and Director of External Relations Della Fletcher MBE, and met the Chief Executive Officers at the Departments of Education and Children, Economic Development, Infrastructure, Environment, Food and Agriculture, and Health.
Mr Mitham also had discussions with Chief Constable Gary Roberts and senior officers from the Isle of Man Constabulary, and will today (Thursday 1 August) tour Noble's Hospital.
The visit is part of the Isle of Man's growing relationship with Tristan da Cunha, a British Overseas Territory located 1,750 miles away from South Africa and 1,500 miles away from the nearest land mass of St Helena. The volcanic island is accessible only by a seven-day boat journey from Cape Town.
The Isle of Man has recently organised temporary placements for three key workers from Tristan da Cunha's 260-strong population, helping them to acquire new skills and a fresh approach to addressing some of the challenges faced by small islands.
Della Fletcher said: `The Isle of Man has a great affinity with other small island nations and is happy to share its knowledge on key issues such as sustainability. The Island takes its international responsibilities very seriously and continues to build friendships and understanding with countries around the world. We wish Alex well as he prepares to take up his new appointment.'
Mr Mitham will depart for Tristan da Cunha in September aboard the SA Agulhas II, a vessel which provides a cargo and passenger service to the island from Cape Town.
He commented: `I am looking forward to living and working in Tristan da Cunha and being an active member of the local community. There are challenges ahead for the island in terms of securing economic growth and stability, so it is extremely valuable to see how things are done in the Isle of Man.'
..... ends .....
In a Persian proverb it is written that when the king says it's midnight at noontime, the wise underling murmurs, "Behold the stars."
Tristan has urgent, critical, unfunded environmental problems but the Foreign Office thinks it's useful to spend British taxpayer money to send poor Mitham to the Isle of Man where there are 80,000 people, 688 miles of paved road, a GDP of $2.113 billion and an international airport that handled 701,847 passengers in 2011. And someone thinks this will prepare him for Tristan.
What problem in British international relationships is this the answer to?
A retired Overseas Territory Governor once told me, "Only someone with a sense of humour could hope to survive the insanity of the world
in which we practised our profession."