All posts by Chris Taylor

Debating Europe Seminar: Challenges and Opportunities over the next decade

Members took the opportunity to attend the seminar at Queen’s University Belfast on the 17th January 2013.  Watch the video below which includes the introduction by Professor David Phinnemore, main Speaker Dr John Barry with a Q&A Session & Closing speech from John Rooney, NIABT Vice Chairperson.

Alec McRitchie, NIABT Board member, Dr Lee McGowan QUB, John Rooney, NIABT Vice Chair, Dr John Barry, QUB, Prof. David Phinnemore, QUB
L-R Alec McRitchie, NIABT Board member, Dr Lee McGowan QUB, John Rooney, NIABT Vice Chair, Dr John Barry, QUB, Prof. David Phinnemore, QUB
L-R Members of the NIABT John Rooney, Vice Chair, Bryan Gray, Gordon Best, Clive Grudgings, Kim Johnson, William McGivern
L-R: Members of the NIABT John Rooney, Vice Chair, Bryan Gray, Gordon Best, Clive Grudgings, Kim Johnson, William McGivern
L-R: John Rooney, NIABT Vice Chair with NIABT Members Clive Grudgings, Kim Johnson
L-R: John Rooney, NIABT Vice Chair with NIABT Members Clive Grudgings & Kim Johnson

NIABTs Join ETI Committee For Research And Development Seminar

Members of the NIABT recently joined the Assembly’s Enterprise, Trade and Investment (ETI) Committee and the Engineering Policy Group Northern Ireland to host an important event highlighting the importance of Research and Development (R&D) to the local economy.

NIABT Members l-r  George Dorrian, Robert Harkness and Joanne Stuart pictured with ETI Committee Chairperson Patsy McGlone MLA
NIABT Members l-r George Dorrian, Robert Harkness and Joanne Stuart pictured with ETI Committee Chairperson Patsy McGlone MLA

Capitalising on the ETI Committee’s recent report “Developing the Northern Ireland Economy through Innovation, Research and Development”, the event attracted a number of high profile speakers from the worlds of academia, commerce and industry. Key considerations included the economic importance of an enhanced strategy for R&D in Northern Ireland and on what can be done to plan for a more flexible science, technology, engineering and mathematics trained workforce.

Chairperson of the ETI Committee Patsy McGlone MLA outlined how the recent Treasury consultation on rebalancing our economy noted the particularly low-level of business expenditure on R&D, and how we compare to other small economies throughout Europe.
Mr McGlone noted that, over the past five years, business expenditure on R&D in Northern Ireland has averaged 0.69% of Gross Value Added (GVA) compared to 1.23% for the UK. In 2009, just ten Northern Ireland companies accounted for 57% of the Northern Ireland R&D expenditure.

NIABT Members heard how the Northern Ireland Assembly is trying to increase our levels of innovation and R&D by advocating greater use of existing opportunities and improving structures, which can then provide increased levels of support for innovation.

Further information on the ETI Committee Report “Developing the Northern Ireland Economy through Innovation, Research and Development” can be found on the Northern Ireland Assembly website.

NIABT Members Attend Westminster Education Programme

Following on from the success of last year’s programme, NIABT members were back in Westminster again this year where they took part in a packed programme of briefings and events.

Business got off to an early start on the first morning of the two day visit with a legislative and committee overview from Alasdair Mackenzie, Westminster’s parliamentary Outreach Officer. Alastair was later joined by Laurence Robertson MP, Chair of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, who provided an overview of some of the Committee’s recent inquiries including the air transport strategy in Northern Ireland.

NIABT Members Visit Westminster
NIABT Members Visit Westminster

Next stop was the Stranger’s Gallery where members got the opportunity to observe Northern Ireland Questions and Prime Minister’s Question Time. Mike Penning MP, Minister of State for Northern Ireland, joined the group later in the afternoon to talk about his experience as an MP and what his new role as Minister of State for Northern Ireland entails.

The busy pace of the first day continued with a group of members observing an evidence session of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. The highlight of this meeting was the NIABT Vice Chair John Rooney and NIABT member Glyn Roberts providing their analysis on current Northern Ireland air transport arrangements and how this could be improved to aid the local economy.

NIABT members were later joined by Vernon Coaker MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, for a lively and informative debate on the Northern Ireland economy.
Day one drew to a close with members attending a working dinner with local MPs Ian Paisley, Jim Shannon, the Rt Hon Jeffrey Donaldson, Dr Alasdair McDonnell MLA, Margaret Ritchie, Mark Durkan and David Simpson. Issues discussed at the dinner included Corporation Tax and Airport Duty.

As the second day of the visit began, there was an early start for members as they attended a breakfast meeting, hosted by the Irish Ambassador Bobby McDonagh at the Irish Embassy. During this breakfast, the discussions included continued close economic relationships between Ireland and the United Kingdom and the upcoming Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Invest NI was the next topic at Westminster where Karena Vaughan, Director of Invest NI delivered an overview of the organisation’s work and role in the UK. The focus of questions was on how the small business sector could be developed and supported. A fascinating discussion also took place on the growth of the space technology and research industry in the UK and opportunities for local businesses and graduates.

The final part of the visit included a working lunch in the House of Lords hosted by Lord Ballyedmond, members were joined by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass. Lord Ballyedmond took members on a tour of the House of Lord and provided a fascinating and informative overview of the rich history and the traditions that exist there.

North Carolina’s First Small Business Commissioner Briefs NIABT

The North Carolina Commissioner for Small Business Scott Daugherty briefs NIABT Members on the importance of the small business sector to the economy.
The North Carolina Commissioner for Small Business Scott Daugherty briefs NIABT Members on the importance of the small business sector to the economy.

The importance and potential growth of the small business sector in Northern Ireland was top of the agenda at a recent NIABT breakfast briefing.

Scott Daugherty, the Commissioner for Small Business in North Carolina, was on hand to share his experiences on how the small business sector in North Carolina has had a very positive effect on the local economy as a whole.

Appointed by the State Governor, Scott is the first, and indeed only, state Commissioner for Small Business in the United States, serving as primary policy and programme advisor on all issues affecting small businesses.

As well as advising on policy, the Commissioner also supervises the Department of Commerce Business LINK North Carolina unit which provides free consultations, information and referrals to small existing and start up enterprises throughout the state.

Front Row L - r  NIABT Chairperson Chris Lyttle MLA and the North Carolina Commissioner for Small Business Scott Daugherty. Back Row L-r  Dr Robert Maura Irish Institute, Boston College, NIABT Member Leslie Cree MLA and NIABT Vice Chairperson John Rooney.
Front Row L – r NIABT Chairperson Chris Lyttle MLA and the North Carolina Commissioner for Small Business Scott Daugherty. Back Row L-r Dr Robert Maura Irish Institute, Boston College, NIABT Member Leslie Cree MLA and NIABT Vice Chairperson John Rooney.

The Commission told NIABT members that there were a lot of similarities between the North Carolina experience and the local business environment. Both, he said, have a high percentage of SMEs and are similarly reliant on the contribution made by this particular sector.

This well attended event stimulated a lot of interest and questions from NIABT members who were all interested to learn how and if the North Carolina experience could benefit small business planning, development and support in Northern Ireland.

Make it your business to learn more about the NIABT

The Northern Ireland Assembly and Business Trust works to provide a forum for local businesses and their political representatives to gain a better insight into issues of mutual concern.

Members take part in seminars, educational events and visits to other legislatures in Europe, the UK and Ireland. There are many opportunities for business members to talk to MLAs about how the Assembly works and how their business can get involved.

If you would like to find out more about our work, on how your business can join and the benefits of membership – why not take a quick look at our new video for a quick flavour of all that the NIABT can offer you and your business.

NIABT Focuses On Economic Outlook For Agri-Food Sector

The importance of the agri food sector to the local economy and its growth potential was the subject of a Northern Ireland Assembly and Business Trust (NIABT) briefing at the Balmoral Show on Wednesday 16 May.

The briefing focused on the way that the local banking sector supports this important and innovative sector, enabling companies to grow their products and to reach new export markets.

With the agri food sector in Northern Ireland currently generating around 20% of local private sector employment, Michael Bell, Executive Director at NI Food and Drink Association told business members and visitors to the show that access to further investment is crucial to improving the export possibilities for local businesses.

Phil Flanagan MLA and NIABT board member said: “We can all agree that the agri-food sector is a real driver for our local economy both in terms of job creation and export potential. I also believe that if we are able to grow this sector we will also help to increase employment opportunities beyond our urban areas.

“Banks have an important part to play, both in supporting new and expanding businesses and by providing advice and investment   expertise to encourage firms to innovate and to access crucial financial support.

“The NIABT is keen to encourage increased collaboration between both sectors to ensure that rural business initiatives have access to the information and funding required to further stimulate rural growth which ultimately will serve to benefit the local economy as a whole.

Cormac McKervey, Head of Agriculture at the Ulster Bank was also on hand at the briefing to underline the bank’s commitment to developing the agri food sector through farming finance and by helping rural businesses to grow through innovation and research and development initiatives.

ENDS

The Northern Ireland Assembly and Business Trust (NIABT) held a briefing at the Balmoral Show on Wednesday 16 May 2012 on the economic outlook for the agri-food sector and the vital supporting role played by the banking sector. Pictured L-R  are Michael Bell, Executive Director NI Food and Drink Association, John Rooney, NIABT Board Member, the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly and President of the NIABT William Hay MLA, Phil Flanagan MLA and NIABT Board member and Cormac McKervey Head of Agriculture at the Ulster Bank.
The Northern Ireland Assembly and Business Trust (NIABT) held a briefing at the Balmoral Show on Wednesday 16 May 2012 on the economic outlook for the agri-food sector and the vital supporting role played by the banking sector. Pictured L-R are Michael Bell, Executive Director NI Food and Drink Association, John Rooney, NIABT Board Member, the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly and President of the NIABT William Hay MLA, Phil Flanagan MLA and NIABT Board member and Cormac McKervey Head of Agriculture at the Ulster Bank.

Notes to Editors:
The Northern Ireland Assembly and Business Trust (NIABT) works to forge links with, and promote the exchange of knowledge and information between, local businesses and parliamentarians in Northern Ireland and in Europe. Open to businesses from all sectors and of all sizes, the NIABT organises activities including monthly breakfast briefings, educational visits, fellowships and seminars as well as annual visits to the European Parliament and Westminster. Further information on the work of the NIABT is available at www.niabt.org

NIABT aims:

  • to provide Assembly Members (MLAs) with a better insight into how local businesses work, helping them to make informed judgements when reviewing Department policy and legislation relating to the local economy.
  • to improve the business community’s understanding of how the Assembly and devolution work and how policy and legislation is developed.

Further information on the NIABT Balmoral briefing can be found at http://niabt.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Balmoral-Flyer.pdf

Media enquiries to:
Sinead Murphy
Deputy Communications Officer
Phone: 028 9052 5938
Mobile: 078 998 64368
Email: press@niabt.org

NIABT Gets To The Heart Of Core Systems

On Friday 27 April,   members of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Business Trust visited Core Systems Ltd in North Belfast. Organised as part of the NIABTs popular education programme, this seminar provided both MLAs and business members with an opportunity to learn more about the work and services provided by this important local business.

Core Systems are leading-edge experts in Identity Management Solutions for high security facilities both here in Northern Ireland and further afield. Patricia O’Hagan, Managing Director of the company provided members with a fascinating insight into the background of the organisation and  the work they do, as well as allowing time for questions from the floor.

Following the presentation, members travelled to the Young Offenders Centre at Hydebank, where they received a tour of the site as well as getting an opportunity to see Core’s biometric systems in action.

Whilst at Hydebank, the NIABT delegation also had a chance to meet with Opportunity Youth to hear about the supporting role they provide for all who come into custody at Hydebank Prison and the Young Offenders Centre.

The NIABT organises a range of relevant and regular educational seminars, all of which give members a unique insight into the important and exciting innovations led by Northern Ireland business and industry.

If you would like more information on how you or your business can get involved please email us at info@niabt.org

Eurozone in Crisis

Professor David Phinnemore, Professor of European Politics at the Queens University Belfast was on hand on Tuesday 17 April 2012 to brief members on the recent crisis in the Eurozone.

The talk focused on some of the key stages on the EU timeline, leading up to the spiralling crisis of December 2009 when Greece signalled debts of €110bn.

The briefing looked closely at how the European Union responded to the Greece debt crisis and the subsequent bailouts required for Ireland and Portugal.

The introduction of the €440bn European Financial Stability Facility (ESFS in May 2010 and the agreement by the European Council to establish a permanent European Stability Mechanism in October 2010 were important initial steps in a bid to safeguard the financial stability of the euro area as a whole.

There were a number of thought provoking questions from members. They were keen to discover what influence national politics would have on how the crisis is resolved and whether or not economies such as Ireland and Portugal could develop fast enough to actually repay the debt owed. Members were also interested to learn if more and more differentiation of membership could eventually lead to a fragmentation of the union.

There were of course no easy answers but Professor Phinnemore was keen to point out that a more positive outlook could be on the horizon.  He cited the July 2011 Treaty establishing a permanent European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and the adoption in October 2011of the ‘six pack’ of legislative measures on improved economic governance as concrete methods to  stabilize the union.

Connecting Local Businesses Is Focus Of NIABT Omagh Event

The way businesses in Omagh and West Tyrone, can work to promote local economic development was the focus of a Northern Ireland Assembly and Business Trust (NIABT) event on Thursday 22 March 2012.

The event highlighted how the NIABT can work with local business and organisations such as the local Omagh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who were instrumental in setting up this event.

Speaking after the event, local MLA Barry McElduff said: “Our regional businesses are central to improving the local economy both from an employment perspective and also by helping to rebalance our economy. The NIABT plays a vital role in bringing together local business leaders with those in political life who are in a position to bring forward policies that will help improve our economic prospects.

“In this challenging economic climate it is particularly important that MLAs take every opportunity to connect with businesses in their own constituencies and to understand the very particular issues and concerns affecting the local economy. MLAs are responsible for developing sound economic policy and legislation which will serve to help local businesses grow and thrive. The opportunity to network and to share experiences at an event such as this is an excellent starting point.”

Local MLA Thomas Buchanan was also present and said: “As a local MLA, I was delighted to be here tonight and to have met with so many local business representatives. It was also heartening to see the resilience of local companies, many of whom are working hard to seek new and innovative ways of making their businesses succeed and prosper in an uncertain financial climate.

“The important role that the NIABT plays in creating opportunities for mutual understanding and learning between MLAs and local businesses cannot be under estimated. The regular NIABT seminars, educational visits and briefings are instrumental in providing a platform for knowledge sharing and increased awareness. With over 60 local businesses represented here tonight, I hope that many will take this opportunity to find out more about how the NIABT works and importantly how it may serve to offer help and support in the future.”

The NIABT Omagh dinner attracted representatives from a large number of companies based in the local Omagh and wider Tyrone area and gave them an opportunity to get to know and forge better working links with their MLAs.

Ends

Front L-R.  Bernie McNamee USEL; Joe Byrne MLA; Hilary England, Tyrone Property Co; Barry McElduff MLA  Back row L-R Dr Nicholas O'Shiel, Omagh Enterprise Ltd; Pat Doherty MLA; Arthur Savage, USEL; Christopher Kelly, President Omagh Chamber of Commerce; Tom Buchanan,  MLA; Julian McKeown, Abac All Business Advice Centre; Patrick Bogue, Bogues Jewellers and Dominic McClements, NW of Ireland Printing & Publishing.
Front L-R. Bernie McNamee USEL; Joe Byrne MLA; Hilary England, Tyrone Property Co; Barry McElduff MLA Back row L-R Dr Nicholas O'Shiel, Omagh Enterprise Ltd; Pat Doherty MLA; Arthur Savage, USEL; Christopher Kelly, President Omagh Chamber of Commerce; Tom Buchanan, MLA; Julian McKeown, Abac All Business Advice Centre; Patrick Bogue, Bogues Jewellers and Dominic McClements, NW of Ireland Printing & Publishing.
L-R Shauna Baxter, Personal Health and Fitness Omagh; Ben O'Hanlon, Todds Leap Ballygawley; Barry McElduff MLA; Patrick Conway, Conway Carpets Omagh; Michael McGarvey, ABC Turbo Clean, Omagh.
L-R Patrick Bogues, Bogues Jewellers; Joe Byrne MLA; John McKinney, Ulster History Park and John Kelly, Accountant, Omagh.
L-R Patrick Bogues, Bogues Jewellers; Joe Byrne MLA; John McKinney, Ulster History Park and John Kelly, Accountant, Omagh.
L-R Alastair Patterson, Lowry Brothers, Castlederg; Olga Walls, Derg Arms; Tom Buchanan MLA and James McConnell, Fintona Autospares.
L-R Alastair Patterson, Lowry Brothers, Castlederg; Olga Walls, Derg Arms; Tom Buchanan MLA and James McConnell, Fintona Autospares.

Notes to Editors:

Omagh NIABT Event

  •  This event has been organised by the Northern Ireland Assembly and Business Trust (NIABT) in conjunction with the Omagh Chamber of Commerce.
  • In attendance at this event were local MLAs Thomas Buchanan MLA, Phil Flanagan MLA, Ross Hussey MLA, Barry McElduff MLA, Pat Doherty MLA and Michaela Boyle MLA.
  •  The event was attended by over 60 local business representatives.

About the NIABT
The Northern Ireland Assembly and Business Trust (NIABT) works to forge links with, and promote the exchange of knowledge and information between, local businesses and parliamentarians in Northern Ireland and in Europe. Open to businesses from all sectors and of all sizes, the NIABT organises activities including breakfast briefings, educational visits, fellowships and seminars and an annual European visit.

NIABT aims:

  • to provide Assembly Members (MLAs) with a better insight into how local businesses work, helping them to make informed judgements when reviewing Department policy and legislation relating to the local economy.
  • to improve the business community’s understanding of how the Assembly and devolution work and how policy and legislation is developed.

Media enquiries to:

Sinead Murphy
Deputy Communications Officer
Northern Ireland Assembly
Phone: 028 9052 5938
Mobile: 078 998 64368
Email: sinead.murphy@niassembly.gov.uk

Connecting Local Businesses Is Focus Of NIABT Craigavon Event

The way businesses in Craigavon can work to promote local economic development was the focus of a Northern Ireland Assembly and Business Trust (NIABT) lunch today (Thursday 22 March 2012).

Pictured speaking at the event is local Upper Bann MLA Jo – Anne Dobson

The event highlighted how the NIABT can work with local business and organisations such as the local Chamber of Commerce and Craigavon Borough Council, both of which were instrumental in setting up this event.

Speaking at the lunch, local MLA and NIABT Member Jo-Anne Dobson said: “Our local businesses are central to improving the Northern Ireland economy both from an employment perspective and also by helping to rebalance our economy. The NIABT plays a vital role in bringing together local business leaders with those in political life who are in a position to bring forward policies that will help improve our economic prospects.

“In this challenging economic climate it is particularly important that MLAs take every opportunity to connect with businesses in their own constituencies and to understand the very particular issues and concerns affecting the local economy. I am delighted to have been able to take part in today’s event in Craigavon and to have met directly with local business leaders from Portadown, Lurgan, Craigavon, Gilford, Banbridge and the surrounding area.”

Pictured from l - r are: James Devlin Head of Business NI at BT and NIABT Board Member, Samuel Gardiner MLA, Robert McVeigh from Craigavon Area Learning Community, Jo - Anne Dobson MLA, Trevor Rainey Clerk Director General of the NI Assembly, Sydney Anderson MLA and Doris Kelly from Greenstone Collectibles in Craigavon.

James Devlin, Head of Business NI at BT and an NIABT Board Member was also present at today’s lunch: “As a Board Member, I am well aware of the important role that the NIABT plays in creating opportunities for mutual understanding and learning between MLAs and local businesses. The regular NIABT seminars, educational visits and briefings are instrumental in providing a platform for knowledge sharing and increased awareness.

“It is imperative that our political representatives are in a position to develop sound economic policy and legislation which will serve to help local businesses to thrive. The opportunity to network and to share experiences at an event such as this is an excellent starting point.”

The lunch attracted representatives from a large number of companies based in the local Craigavon area and gave them an opportunity to get to know and forge better working links with their MLAs.

Ends

Notes to Editors:

Craigavon NIABT Event

  • This event has been organised by the Northern Ireland Assembly and Business Trust (NIABT) in conjunction with the local Chamber of Commerce and Craigavon Borough Council.
  • The MLAs in attendance at this event were Upper Bann MLAs, Jo-Anne Dobson MLA, Sydney Anderson MLA, Dolores Kelly MLA and Samuel Gardiner MLA.
  • The event was attended by 40 local business representatives.

About the NIABT
The Northern Ireland Assembly and Business Trust (NIABT) works to forge links with, and promote the exchange of knowledge and information between, local businesses and parliamentarians in Northern Ireland and in Europe. Open to businesses from all sectors and of all sizes, the NIABT organises activities including breakfast briefings, educational visits, fellowships and seminars and an annual European visit.

NIABT aims:
• to provide Assembly Members (MLAs) with a better insight into how local businesses work, helping them to make informed judgements when reviewing Department policy and legislation relating to the local economy.
• to improve the business community’s understanding of how the Assembly and devolution work and how policy and legislation is developed.

Media enquiries to:
Sinead Murphy
Deputy Communications Officer
Northern Ireland Assembly
Phone: 028 9052 5938
Mobile: 078 998 64368
Email: sinead.murphy@niassembly.gov.uk