Effective Engagement between Business and the Northern Ireland Assembly: Research Project

In 2017 the NIABT decided that its objectives could be better achieved by the Northern Ireland Assembly facilitating business engagement activities in house rather than via a Trust.  Accordingly, the Trust agreed to dissolve and work to effect that dissolution is under way.

To support the transition from the NIABT to the new arrangements, the Trust agreed to fund a research project with the broad aim of informing the development of new arrangements to maximise effective engagement between business and the Assembly. The research will:

  • Gauge the business community in Northern Irelands level of understanding of the Assembly’s roles and responsibilities.
  • Take the views of the business community in Northern Ireland, Assembly Members and secretariat staff on current and past engagement practice between the Assembly and business and how such engagement could be improved.
  • Make comparisons with the engagement practices of other legislatures.

Pinnacle Growth Group have been appointed to undertaking the research and following consultation with Assembly Members, business members and Assembly staff, Pinnacle have developed an online survey to assess the current levels of engagement between the Northern Ireland Assembly and local businesses, and also the effectiveness of this engagement. Please find some further details and a link to the survey below.

Northern Ireland Assembly Business Trust – Stakeholder Survey

In partnership with the Northern Ireland Assembly Business Trust, Pinnacle Growth Group are undertaking a research project focusing on the level of engagement between the Northern Ireland Assembly and local businesses.

A key part of this project is engaging directly with businesses that span different sectors, scales and locations across Northern Ireland, so that we may gather information that will enable us to evaluate current engagement levels between local businesses and the Northern Ireland Assembly and identify potentially new and different approaches to increasing engagement levels. 

As part of this project, we would ask you to consider completing a 10 minute online survey by using this link.

Participation in this survey will be anonymous and no personal details will be gathered.

The closure date for the survey is 17:00 on Monday 22 March 2021

Please note that this survey is seeking to assess the engagement role of the Northern Ireland Assembly only – not the Northern Ireland Executive, individual MLAs or any Civil Service Departments. We would ask that the survey be completed with this in mind.

On behalf of Pinnacle Growth Group and the Northern Ireland Assembly & Business Trust, we thank you for your time and contributions towards this valuable piece of research.

Dissolution of the NIABT – Update

At its meeting on 13th November 2017 the Board of Trustees agreed a proposal that the NIABT be dissolved, with the membership voting to dissolve the Trust at the AGM on 13th December 2017. This decision was agreed in the context that the Northern Ireland Assembly is committed to developing a new programme of work to engage business. At subsequent Board Meetings, Board Members discussed options for the disbursement of NIABT funds and unanimously voted that any decision of how the funds should be disbursed would be put on hold until the political situation is clearer. Given the resumption of the Assembly the Board will meet on 22nd January 2020 to further this discussion.

During this time the Northern Ireland Assembly has been developing its Corporate Plan which contains reference to the establishment of the Northern Ireland Assembly Business Network. Work on its development will continue in tandem with the dissolution of the Trust, ensuring continuity of the relationship between business and the Assembly established by the NIABT.

Dissolution of the NIABT

The NIABT Board of Trustees held a strategic planning day in June 2016 to discuss the ongoing work and future goals of the NIABT. One outcome from the planning day was to review the efficiency of the work being undertaken by the Trust with a view to increasing its impact on members as well as the wider business community in Northern Ireland.

Following the review, reform proposals were presented to the NIABT Board outlining how the Trust’s aims and objectives could be better served and better delivered.

At its meeting on 13th November 2017 the Board of Trustees agreed a proposal that the NIABT be dissolved, with the membership voting to dissolve the Trust at the AGM on 13th December 2017. This decision was agreed in the context that the Northern Ireland Assembly is committed to developing a new programme of work entitled the Northern Ireland Assembly Business Network (ABN).

At the AGM members also voted on how the funds should be disbursed in line with the articles of the Trust.

The Board considered the options at its meeting on Wednesday 19th February 2018 and unanimously voted that any decision of how the funds should be disbursed would be put on hold until the political situation is clearer. It met again on 19th September 2018 and again unanimously voted that decision be postponed. The Board will meet again in February 2019 (unless the political situation is resolved sooner) to assess the situation.

NIABT Brexit Debate

On Monday 16th November 2015, the NIABT, in partnership with QUB, held the second of a two part event focusing on the upcoming EU Referendum and how this is likely to impact on Northern Ireland.

Colette Fitzgerald, NI Head of the European Commission Regional Office, Nigel Smyth, CBI NI, Mike Nesbitt MLA and Patsy McGlone MLA ,Chairpersons of the Committees for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister and, for Enterprise, Trade and Investment respectively formed the panel and took questions from the audience.

The Panel discussed a number of issues of concern to local businesses, ranging from agriculture, trade and cultural links with the rest of the Europe and border controls as well as looking at the current ideas for reforming the EU.

The conclusion from the large majority of the audience was that a reformed EU is the best option for the Northern Ireland economy.

NIABT Chair Robin Newton MLA opens the event
NIABT Chair Robin Newton MLA opens the event

Panel taking questions from the audience, l-r Colette Fitzgerald, Patsy McGlone MLA, Mike Nesbitt MLA and Nigel Smyth
Panel taking questions from the audience, l-r Colette Fitzgerald, Patsy McGlone MLA, Mike Nesbitt MLA and Nigel Smyth

NIABT delegation visits Cardiff and Swansea

NIABT delegation visits Cardiff and Swansea as part of an educational programme in Wales.

NIABT delegation pictured at Swansea Bay
NIABT delegation pictured at Swansea Bay

Jo-Anne Dobson MLA pictured with Alice Randone from the Welsh Parliament
Jo-Anne Dobson MLA pictured with Alice Randone from the Welsh Parliament

NIABT delegation pictured with Ioan Jenkins, Development Director for Wales, Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon
NIABT delegation pictured with Ioan Jenkins, Development Director for Wales, Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon

John Dallat MLA opens the meeting on public procurement with Value Wales
John Dallat MLA opens the meeting on public procurement with Value Wales

Jo-Anne Dobson MLA and Glyn Roberts pictured with William Graham, Chair of the Committee for Enterprise and Business
Jo-Anne Dobson MLA and Glyn Roberts pictured with William Graham, Chair of the Committee for Enterprise and Business

Leslie Cree MLA, Jo-Anne Dobson MLA and Richard Stewart pictured at Welsh ICE in Caerphilly
Leslie Cree MLA, Jo-Anne Dobson MLA and Richard Stewart pictured at Welsh ICE in Caerphilly

EU Referendum / Brexit debate

On Monday 28th September, the NIABT in partnership with QUB held the first of a two part event, themed on the upcoming EU Referendum and how this is likely to impact on Northern Ireland.

Colette Fitzgerald, Head of the European Commission Regional Office in Northern Ireland, Professor David Phinnemore and Dr Lee McGowan addressed the audience on the issues facing Northern Ireland on the outcome of an announcement of a Brexit.

Robin Newton MLA, NIABT Chair opens the event.
Robin Newton MLA, NIABT Chair opens the event.

John McCallister MLA visits Danske Bank on NIABT fellowship

John McCallister MLA spent the afternoon at Danske Bank headquarters in Belfast to find out the banking sector. During his visit, Mr McCallister was greeted by Kevin Kingston (Deputy CEO) who explained key facts about Danske Bank in Northern Ireland, including their competitive market and business performance.

Mr McCallister then met with John Henning (Head of Agricultural Relations) where he was able to find out more about agriculture and business banking.

Brian Telford (Head of Markets) then spent some time explaining to John how this area of banking operates.