Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, added that today’s meeting of the British Irish Council was almost entirely dominated by the challenges faced by the economies of the participants and the importance of getting sustainable lending from their banking systems.

The summit at Lancaster House in London was attended by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Energy, Pat Rabbitte, the North's First and Deputy First Ministers, as well as ministers from Scotland, Wales, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

They also discussed increased co-operation on electricity grid infrastructure and an ‘all islands approach to electricity resources to maximise the potential for growth in renewable energy potential’.

Today's summit of the British-Irish Council was the first full meeting since last month's elections to the devolved institutions in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The next full meeting will take place in Ireland at the end of this year.