Posted on Friday 28 June 2019 by John Mulgrew
Northern Ireland’s politicians “must not waste time” amid ongoing talks at restoring an Executive while business here should employ the “collaborative vision” that saw industries grow following the Good Friday Agreement.
John Healy, president of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said “we should be heartened by the fact that our politicians are apparently talking” but after two years without movement of any kind “we shouldn’t expect results in a hurry”.
“Nevertheless, they mustn’t waste time. So much is at stake if they don’t want history to look back on this period and say – they promised so much but delivered so little.
"My advice would be: Don’t give up. Don’t let a difficulty today ruin the vision for tomorrow. We in business and industry will give you all the encouragement you need.”
He was speaking more than 500 guests at the NI Chamber Annual President’s Lunch at Belfast City Hall.
Mr Healy, who heads up Allstate in Northern Ireland, also said that if a fresh bid to host the World Chambers Congress is successful, it could be worth around £2m to the Northern Ireland economy.
“We need action on the economy, on infrastructure, on health – addressing the drastic shortage of clinical nurses, for example – or on education,” he said. “The drift of our talented students to universities across the water or how we face issues like numeracy and literacy levels.
“However, we should be heartened by the fact that our politicians are now talking. That’s a welcome step forward. But after two years without movement of any kind, we shouldn’t expect results in a hurry.”
Speaking about the Chamber’s attempt to host the World Chambers Congress, he said: “Less than two weeks ago, NI Chamber along with the British Chamber of Commerce and Chambers Ireland were in Rio at the World Chambers Congress, showcasing Northern Ireland as a potential host for the conference in 2023.
“Held every two years in a different region of the world, the World Chambers Congress provides unparalleled opportunities to connect and strengthen relations with a diverse and international group of individuals representing more than 100 countries.
“The bid, if successful, could bring an estimated economic value of £1.92m to Northern Ireland and we were joined in Rio by our strategic partners including Invest Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, Visit Belfast and ICC Belfast.”
Those attending the lunch also heard from Eddie O’Sullivan, former head coach to the Irish national rugby team, and gaelic football legend Pat Spillane. The event was sponsored by BT, along with supporting sponsors Cleaver Fulton Rankin, GMcG Chartered Accountants and Dell EMC.