The President of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber), Cathal Geoghegan has said there is still time to make 2023 ‘a year of progress.’
Speaking at the membership organisation’s Annual Lunch in Belfast City Hall today (Friday 23 June) Mr Geoghegan said:
“Every day something else highlights the urgent need for this situation to be resolved. Most recently the budget allocation for the Department for the Economy laid bare the scale of the problem and the long-term economic challenges we face.”
During an address to over 400 businesspeople, he commended their resilience, saying:
“All around this room there are people who are driving growth, helping to showcase Northern Ireland as a great place in which to work, as a place to live, visit and invest in.
“25 years since the signing of the Belfast Good Friday agreement, the dividends of peace are all around us.
“Since then, we’ve experienced transformational social and economic change. We’ve moved to 50% renewable electricity generation and witnessed the creation of 200,000 net jobs. Transformation is apparent in our world-leading agri-food sector, in the growth of life sciences and advanced manufacturing and in our fantastic universities.
“Businesses continue to demonstrate remarkable resilience, but they cannot do it alone forever. Put simply, we need political leadership to sustain growth and attract investment.”
Speaking about the ongoing absence of an Executive at Stormont, Mr Geoghegan said he was “hopeful that we are moving towards a turning point.”
“There is still time to make 2023 a year of progress, so let us hope that the current impasse doesn’t drag on much longer. And I say that not just on behalf of those of us in business and industry but on behalf of the wider community” he concluded.
Attendees at the sold-out event also heard from guest speaker, Harry Redknapp. The former professional footballer and Premier League Manager turned television pundit and ‘King of the Jungle,’ was interviewed by broadcaster and event host, Claire McCollum.
NI Chamber’s Annual Lunch was delivered with the support of its Communications Partner, BT alongside supporting sponsors Cleaver Fulton Rankin, GMcG and Everun, as well as drinks reception sponsor, Dell.
Speaking inside Belfast City Hall, Paul Murnaghan, Regional Director for BT Business in Northern Ireland said:
“BT remains as committed as it has ever been to supporting local businesses through our support schemes and Digital Skills programme to help local companies to get better positioned for recovery, growth and success.
“As one of Northern Ireland’s largest investors and employers, we will continue to play a pivotal role in the economic support and growth of our economy here. We’re investing locally including the recently reopened multi million pound refurbishment of Riverside Tower displaying our commitment to Belfast as a strategic long term location for BT in the future. I’m also pleased to say that we’re continuing to develop and deliver 5G led innovations with partners and customers to keep businesses connected when they need it most.”