Fintech Envoy joins Northern Ireland Working Group at Glasgow Symposium

Andrew Jenkins, Fintech Envoy for Northern Ireland

Andrew Jenkins, Fintech Envoy for Northern Ireland

Andrew Jenkins, the newly appointed Fintech Envoy for Northern Ireland was among a delegation from the Fintech NI Working Group which attended the inaugural meeting of the Fintech National Network Symposium, in Glasgow. This included Karen Bradbury, Fintech Lead Invest NI, Alex Lee, co-founder FinTechNI and Philip Creed, co-founder and Director FSCom.

The gathering, hosted by Fintech Scotland, brought together senior leaders from the various fintech bodies, the Financial Conduct Authority, Scottish Development International, the UK Department for International Trade, Innovate Finance, the UK Treasury and the FinTech Alliance. They were joined by top fintech entrepreneurs from across the UK.

Addressing the symposium, Andrew Jenkins focused on Northern Ireland’s value proposition as a centre for fintech activity and highlighted the importance of the technology clusters that support the fintech sector here.

Other key themes discussed included the need to nurture the skills for the future, promoting inclusion and diversity, driving innovation across the sector, the importance of cross-sector collaboration to support further fintech growth, and the potential for fintech to bring broader societal benefits.

The Fintech National Network comprises the regional fintech bodies across the UK. Established in 2019, it aims to foster collaboration between the fintech bodies and to provide valuable connections to amplify support for fintech enterprises.

The Fintech National Network will meet in Belfast next June. 

Andrew Jenkins, Fintech Envoy for Northern Ireland commented:

“This was my first opportunity to meet up with the regional envoys from across the UK and it was fantastic to see first-hand the partnership, innovation and connectivity already happening across the UK fintech sector. By understanding where our strengths lie – both individually and collectively - and playing to them, I believe we can achieve even more.”

“The symposium also underlined the importance of inclusion and diversity across the fintech sector and this is something which I am passionate about. Promoting diversity is critical to further developing and growing the industry.”  

“Northern Ireland is already a centre of excellence for fintech and the outlook is hugely exciting. As we look to the future, we must continue to articulate the broader economic and societal benefits that fintech can bring. In working with a range of stakeholder groups across Northern Ireland, our strategy will look to harness our incredible potential and continue to build out our areas of expertise.”

Statement from Hospitality Ulster on Liquor Licensing consultation published this afternoon

Reacting to the news that the Department for Communities has published a new consultation on the reform of Liquor Licensing in Northern Ireland, Colin Neill, Chief Executive of Hospitality Ulster said today:

“We welcome the publication of this new consultation by the Department for Communities on the reform of Liquor Licensing and commend the Department’s Permanent Secretary for undertaking the preparatory work in advance of a return of government in Northern Ireland.”

“Unfortunately, we have been here several times before, without movement. However, this consultation will help to ensure our licensing laws can be modernised at the earliest opportunity, once government returns.”

“It was not so long ago that a Bill to reform our outdated licensing laws had already been introduced to the last Assembly, prior to its collapse, with much of the heavy lifting in terms of drafting already carried out. By re-consulting it may feel like we are back to square one, but with the last consultation now seven years old, it is vital that this is updated and ready for action once we have a government, allowing them to move forward swiftly and decisively, and address the outdated law as it currently sits.”

“We are currently working in an anti-business environment where our sector is struggling with high rate of hospitality VAT, extortionate business rates and ever increasing wage bills, compounded by labour and migration issues brought about by Brexit fears. This is not to mention the minimal economic growth predicted over the next year by some of our leading economists and the need to be given the opportunity to increase our consumer base to balance the books.”

“We already have written cross party political commitment to modernise this legislation and widespread public support to push for the changes that will have positive impacts on the likes of opening times during key holiday periods and giving businesses in the sector the tools to run profitably and to allow them to reinvest.”

“The hospitality sector is a £1.2billion a year industry and is the backbone of our tourism offer and economy as clearly stated in the Programme for Government. Its growth is being heavily curtailed by legislative paralysis and is a major cause in restricting our potential. Tens of millions of pounds are being lost per annum and this position is continuing to damage our international reputation. Any competitive advantage that we have as a European destination is being eroded.”

“Modernisation of our outdated licensing laws are long overdue and it must be addressed as a matter of priority.”

Major local government conference hears from planning and place-shaping experts

(Left to Right):   Host Yvette Shapiro, NILGA Head of Policy and Governance Karen Smyth, Cllr Steven Corr, Chair, NILGA Place Shaping and Infrastructure Network, Katrina Godfrey, Permanent Secretary, Department for Infrastructure, Prof Robin Hambleton, University of the West of England, Cllr Diana Armstrong, Vice-Chair, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and Sara Venning, CEO, NI Water

(Left to Right): Host Yvette Shapiro, NILGA Head of Policy and Governance Karen Smyth, Cllr Steven Corr, Chair, NILGA Place Shaping and Infrastructure Network, Katrina Godfrey, Permanent Secretary, Department for Infrastructure, Prof Robin Hambleton, University of the West of England, Cllr Diana Armstrong, Vice-Chair, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and Sara Venning, CEO, NI Water

Senior civil servants, local government representatives and other planning experts outlined the potential benefits of ambitious planning and place-shaping policies today at a major conference in Enniskillen.  

The Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA)’s conference ‘Changing Places: Planning, Place-Shaping and Place-Making in Northern Ireland’ discussed key issues concerning the future of planning, the environment and economic development in Northern Ireland.

Held in the Killyhevlin Hotel and supported by Fermanagh & Omagh District Council, the conference brought together planning experts from the NI Civil Service, local government, business, academia and the environmental sector.

Speakers included:

•             Katrina Godfrey, Permanent Secretary DfI

•             Sara Venning, CEO, NI Water

•             Noelle McAloon, Enniskillen BID Manager

•             Paddy Gray, Emeritus Professor of Housing - Ulster University

•             Peter Morrow, Aecom

•             Ian Humphrey, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful

•             Robin Hambleton, University of the West of England and Urban Answers

As part of local government reform, the 11 councils took on significantly more responsibilities for the planning and place-shaping of our local communities.

The conference’s keynote speaker, Katrina Godfrey, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Infrastructure, said:

“Today’s conference is a welcome opportunity to exchange perspectives and views on how to shape the future of planning in Northern Ireland. Our Department has a clear and firm focus on people and their wellbeing and how this can be delivered through regional place-shaping. Good design can change lives, communities and neighbourhoods for the better. This is why we have worked to produce products like our urban stewardship and design guide “Living Places.” This provides strategic guidance on how places should develop and change going forward. By working together we can create sustainable, living places which support communities, improve well-being and help create high quality, accessible and inclusive spaces where people want to live, work, visit and invest.”

Cllr Stevie Corr, Chair, NILGA Place Shaping and Infrastructure Network also said:

“Planning powers are arguably local government’s greatest responsibility in Northern Ireland. Place-shaping and place-making are about getting the right things built in the right places, about the spaces around buildings and other key issues impacting on quality of life including social justice, job creation, regeneration, climate change and sustainable development.

“Councils seek to plan and deliver with local communities, as place-shaping affects the lives of everyone. It is key that local councils have strong, efficient and focused planning systems which partner bodies respond to dynamically and which effectively drive the Northern Ireland economy.

“Our local councils have a powerful role in creating vibrant and sustainable local communities. Today has been a fantastic opportunity to hear from leaders involved in changing our places and to discuss how local government can effectively lead future planning and infrastructure projects in Northern Ireland.”

Allstate celebrates 20 years of business in Northern Ireland

John Healy, Vice President and Managing Director of Allstate Northern Ireland celebrating the 20th anniversary with staff who have twenty years of continuous service. L-R Mark Lilburn, Pauline Lilburn, Jayne Workman, Paddy Warnock with Vice President and Managing Director John Healy centre.

John Healy, Vice President and Managing Director of Allstate Northern Ireland celebrating the 20th anniversary with staff who have twenty years of continuous service. L-R Mark Lilburn, Pauline Lilburn, Jayne Workman, Paddy Warnock with Vice President and Managing Director John Healy centre.

One of the province’s biggest employers, Allstate Northern Ireland is marking its 20th anniversary in business.  

Now with three offices across the country, Allstate Northern Ireland was founded in 1999 in support of its parent company, The Allstate Corporation – one of the largest publicly owned property and casualty insurance companies in the United States. In the years since, the technology company has been recognised for multiple awards for its high-quality software development and business solutions services.

The company now has over 2,400 employees based in offices in Belfast, the North West and Strabane. Thirty-eight of those employees celebrated twenty years of continuous service with a celebratory dinner in Belfast City Hall earlier this summer, attended by Suren Gupta, executive vice president, Allstate Technology and Strategic Ventures

Last year, the company further cemented its commitment to Northern Ireland, opening a new headquarters in Belfast, located between Belfast Central railway station and the River Lagan. The development included over 140,000 square feet of Grade A office space, extensive refurbishment of the towpath, adjacent boat marina and a restaurant unit at ground level.

Working through the post Belfast Agreement era, the company has been a significant player in the economy and instrumental in developing the local skills base. Additionally, Allstate is now in the process of developing new apprenticeships in Northern Ireland.

As well as providing collaborative working environments, Allstate Northern Ireland have placed investment in reskilling employees through Open University. Initiatives like these have been encouraged by John Healy, who as Allstate Northern Ireland’s leader and President of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, recognises the need to ensure the workforce has the latest skills which can drive innovation and ultimately boost the NI economy.

The importance of diversity in its workforce is celebrated by Allstate Northern Ireland. Inclusive diversity enhances the company’s ability to attract, motivate and retain a diverse pool of high-performing employees necessary for continuing development and ensuring that Allstate Northern Ireland remains a key global player.

The company also understands the importance of giving back to local communities. One of these policies has been the creation of “Force for Good” committees in each of the offices, which awards all employees 15 hours to spend on volunteering opportunities of their choice. 

John Healy, Managing Director and Vice President of Allstate NI said:

“At Allstate Northern Ireland, we are continuing to shape our culture to maximise innovation and entrepreneurship. Through our developing talent pool, strong leadership, diverse input and inclusive thinking, we bring value every day to the Allstate Corporation, harnessing and developing new ideas which propel our transformation strategy.

“Our experience in Northern Ireland allows us to play a major part in the Allstate transformation plan, which is focused on accelerating and building upon a successful strategy of innovation so that we can continue to stand apart, not just as an insurance company but as a broader protection company. The plan is expected to see transformation in operational processes and technology across the enterprise which will enable a significant leap to customer-centricity.

“We see the potential for Northern Ireland, a place where we have grown our workforce ten-fold and provided high quality jobs across Belfast and the North West.

 “Our socially responsible policies are considered as a core component of our company’s overall service and product offering. We are unlocking our intellectual assets and people power to achieve a positive impact through initiatives which are authentic, valued, and critical to business performance.”

Belfast health worker presented with UK award

(From left to right):  Della Money, Chair of the RCSLT Board of Trustees, Kamini Gadhok MBE, Chief Executive of the RCSLT, Mary Heritage, Deputy Chair of the RCSLT Board of Trustees, HRH Countess of Wessex GCVO, Tony O’Hara, SEHSCT, and Nick Hewer, President of the RCSLT at The Giving Voice Awards on 25 September.

(From left to right): Della Money, Chair of the RCSLT Board of Trustees, Kamini Gadhok MBE, Chief Executive of the RCSLT, Mary Heritage, Deputy Chair of the RCSLT Board of Trustees, HRH Countess of Wessex GCVO, Tony O’Hara, SEHSCT, and Nick Hewer, President of the RCSLT at The Giving Voice Awards on 25 September.

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) has presented Tony O’Hara, Head of Services for Patient Experience at South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, with a national Giving Voice Award.

Tony was recognised for his work in supporting people with eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties – also known as dysphagia – and was presented with the award at the prestigious awards ceremony in Nottingham, where he met the charity’s patron Her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex.

The annual Giving Voice Awards celebrate those who have campaigned to highlight how speech and language therapy transforms lives. They are presented to individuals and organisations that have made particularly valuable contributions to improving the lives of people with communication and/or swallowing needs.

The judges were impressed with the inspirational leadership Tony demonstrated in creating a multi-disciplinary project that improved mealtimes for people with dysphagia after people had expressed dissatisfaction with pre-prepared modified texture food and drinks brought into the Trust.


Tony and his team worked with speech and language therapists, catering managers and dieticians to develop a menu plan focussed on fresh, healthy, IDDSI compliant, and enjoyable food and drink for people with eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties.  The judges commended Tony for producing a tangible and sustainable model, which will impact greatly on the quality of people’s lives.

Head of the RCSLT Northern Ireland office, Ceara Gallagher said of Tony’s achievement:

“We are very proud of Tony receiving the National RCSLT Giving Voice Award. Tony is deserving of this Award as someone who goes above and beyond in his job and who is an advocate for people with eating and drinking difficulties. Eating and drinking normally is something that we all can take for granted even though it is one of life’s pleasures. Tony worked hard to ensure that the quality of the food and the overall experience of eating and drinking was significantly enhanced for those patients he worked with and for that reason he has made a huge impact on their quality of life.”

Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex GCVO DStJ attended The Giving Voice Awards, as Patron of The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, on 25 September 2019 at Council House, Nottingham.

Brown O'Connor Communications: Upcoming Key Political and Business Events + Live Consultations


Upcoming Key Political and Business Events

  • 8 October, ‘Changing Places: Planning, Place-shaping and Place-making’, NILGA, Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen

  • 11 October, 62nd Annual President’s Dinner, Derry Chamber of Commerce, Everglades Hotel, Derry

  • 14 October, Queen’s Speech, Westminster

  • 17-18 October, European Council Summit, Brussels

  • 25-26 October, DUP Party Conference, Crown Plaza Hotel, Belfast

  • 15-16 November, Sinn Féin Ard Fheis, Millennium Forum, Derry

  • 23 November, IoD NI Connect & Influence: Reputation and Crisis Management Seminar for Directors, Riddell Hall, Belfast


Call for participants to join in the Better Club Games 2019

The winning team of the 2018 Better Club Games from Shankill Leisure Centre.

The winning team of the 2018 Better Club Games from Shankill Leisure Centre.

Social enterprise GLL is on the lookout for people aged over 55 to take part in its 2019 Club Games competition.

The annual games were established as part of GLL’s commitment to building stronger, more resilient communities by helping tackle loneliness and isolation among older people and encouraging people to move more, get active and make new friends.

GLL runs all of Belfast’s leisure centres in partnership with Belfast City Council and is using this year’s event as an opportunity to also raise money for Cancer Research UK. The competition is now entering its fourth year and the hope is that this one will be its biggest yet.

Club Games is looking for teams of people aged over 55, to participate in its competition on Friday 25th October at Girdwood Hub in Belfast. The closing date for entries is Friday 11th October 2019.

The sports that participants will compete in are:

  1. Badminton

  2. Boccia

  3. Table Tennis

  4. Bowls

  5. Walking Basketball

  6. Cycling

  7. Dander Ball

Ronan McKenna, Regional Community Sports Manager said:

“Club Games is one of our key events and is getting bigger and more competitive ever year. Last year 11 teams took part from leisure centres across the city and there was some serious competition for the winning team.

“The games started as part of our commitment to improving health and wellbeing in the communities in which we work. One of the areas we wanted to focus on was those people aged over 55, who might feel lonely or isolated.

“The games are also a way of breaking down barriers that often stop older people using their local leisure centres and to show them off as a real community hub.

“We hope to encourage a few more teams to enter this year and we would also urge individuals to enter because we can also set them up with a team.”

Harry Larkin, a previous participant of last year’s Club Games said:

“I’ve become a regular member of Shankill leisure centre and find that it really helps in keeping me active and fit for my grandkids!

“The Club Games are brilliant craic and the competition is fierce for the top spot. Our own team would welcome any new participant who wants to take part.”

Anyone who would like to participate in this year’s Club Games should contact Martin Brownlee at Girdwood Hub on 028 9521 7870, before 5pm on Friday 11 October.

Respect Human Rights Film Festival to feature Q&A with Hooded Men

Festival Director, Seán Murray

Festival Director, Seán Murray

A fascinating documentary which traces the roots of the western governments use of torture is set to feature as part of the Respect Human Rights Film Festival which takes place in Belfast this weekend.

‘Eminent Monsters’ which is directed by Stephen Bennett includes extraordinary first-hand testimony from those who have experienced the physical and mental effects of torture including the ‘Hooded Men’. It will be screened on Sunday evening in An Cultúrlann.

This screening comes at the time of a recent decision by the Court of Appeal which ordered a criminal investigation into the treatment of the Hooded Men. The Court of Appeal confirmed that the abuse these men faced in 1971 would be characterised as torture, if it was used today.

Following the screening, a Q&A session will be chaired by Festival Director Seán Murray and will include two of the Hooded Men, Liam Shannon and Francis McGuigan in what will be a poignant and revealing talk.

Respect Human Rights Film Festival will take place in venues across Belfast between 4-6 October. More information and tickets are available at

Speaking ahead of this screening, Festival Director Seán Murray said:

I am thrilled that Eminent Monsters will screen as part of Respect Human Rights Film Festival this weekend.

“This is a truly enthralling and revealing documentary which gets to the heart of human rights abuses which some in our society have faced. The success of the festival thus far demonstrates the increasing demand for festivals like this that empower, educate and advocate for those without a voice.

“I am particularly thankful that two of the Hooded Men, Liam Shannon and Francis McGuigan will share their powerful testimony at the festival.”

Andrew Jenkins appointed new Fintech Envoy for Northern Ireland

Andrew Jenkins, new Fintech Envoy for Northern Ireland appointed by HM Treasury

Andrew Jenkins, new Fintech Envoy for Northern Ireland appointed by HM Treasury

Andrew Jenkins, Director of mobility data and analytics company Arity, has today (Friday 4th October) been appointed as the Government’s new Fintech Envoy for Northern Ireland.

Fintech is one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK economy, and Northern Ireland is increasingly recognised as an important destination for new development and investment in Fintech, with over 36,000 people employed in the financial services sector.

Mr Jenkins will become the lead ambassador for Northern Ireland’s thriving Fintech sector, promoting it as a place for firms to develop and grow their business. The appointment, made by the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, underlines the UK Government’s unwavering commitment to the Union as the UK prepares for Brexit, as well as promoting Northern Ireland as a great place to do business.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, said:

“Fintech is vital to the future of financial services, and we want every corner of the UK to be able to harness its power.

“I want to congratulate Andrew on taking up his new role as Fintech Envoy, where he will play a critical role in helping the sector to grow and flourish in Belfast and beyond.

“I have no doubt that he will build on the success of the existing envoys in ensuring that we remain a world leader in Fintech and at the cutting edge of the digital revolution.”

Fintech Envoy for Northern Ireland, Andrew Jenkins, said:

“I am honoured to be chosen as the Fintech Envoy for Northern Ireland, where I will collaborate with the sector here to harness our incredible potential to lead the region and beyond in Fintech expertise and offerings.

“I will work to bring together business and civic leaders to invest in leading edge technologies and applications, focusing on emerging capabilities in blockchain, artificial intelligence and data security, to further grow the sector in Northern Ireland.

“Our mandate as part of the UK Fintech strategy is to capitalise on what we have already have in place here in Northern Ireland. With strong Government support, close collaboration between big companies and start-ups and a world class workforce, Northern Ireland has the potential to become the best place in the world to start and build a Fintech company.”

Financial Technology – or Fintech – refers to the new innovations made in financial services which are giving people greater choice and control over their finances. This includes areas like digital banking, payment technologies, peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding platforms.

Mr Jenkins has more than 20 years of experience in the technology sector, including the financial services, utilities, insurance, telecoms and transportation sectors. In his current role at Arity, a company founded by The Allstate Corporation, he leads work to harness mobility data to create more relevant and safer mobility experiences for everyone. He will take over the role from Georgina O’Leary, who was appointed to the role in May 2018.

He will join the current envoys based around the UK in championing the power of Fintech:

  • David Ferguson, CEO of Nucleus Financial, and Louise Smith, Head of Intelligent Automation at RBS (envoys for Scotland)

  • David Duffy, CEO of CYBG (envoy for England)

  • Chris Sier, Chairman of Fintech North (envoy for the Northern Powerhouse)

  • Richard Theo, CEO of Wealthify (envoy for Wales)

TEDxStormontWomen launches ‘Bold and Brilliant’ public speaking initiative for 500 young women

TEDxWomen 2019 Infographic.jpg

500 women and girls are set to take part in one of the most ambitious public speaking programmes in Northern Ireland in conjunction with TEDxStormontWomen. The initiative will take place across October and November ahead of the TEDxStormontWomen event in Parliament Buildings, Stormont on 12 December.

The TEDxStormontWomen Masterclass programme, a partnership between the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building and Bespoke Communications, which includes former broadcaster Sarah Travers and public speaking expert Camilla Long is set to deliver a cross-community, intergenerational, capacity building initiative with the main aim of making girls and women more confident in public speaking.

The fun, interactive sessions will help participants to better understand the body language of influence, how to develop a persuasive presentation style that is uniquely theirs and to think about how the structure of their message impacts on what others hear.

Following the success of the TEDxStormont public speaking programme delivered in partnership with The Executive Office Urban Villages initiative which ran in the summer, TEDxStormontWomen is expanding the initiative to 500 women and girls across Northern Ireland. The winner of the previous series, Tegan Nesbitt’s talk has been viewed 16,000 times on YouTube since its upload in September.  

John Blair MLA, sponsor of TEDxStormontWomen:

“I am thrilled to be backing TEDxStormontWomen this year. It is a great event that shows the power of public speaking and how ideas worth telling in a confident way can push forward the equality agenda in Northern Ireland.”

“The opportunity that the “bold and brilliant” public speaking programme offers will be so beneficial for women and girls across Northern Ireland and is a really important element of this year’s TEDxStormontWomen. This will be an empowering initiative for women, especially in 2019 when we really should be bridging the gap for women to have positions of power and authority. Focus on communication skills will be a great boost for the participants from across Northern Ireland who will be taking part.”

“I encourage all women and girls to join up and get involved in the programme as the opportunities that this will open up for them is truly unique.”

TEDxStormontWomen curator Eva Grosman:

“TEDxStormontWomen is such an exciting event and the opportunity to continue on the work we began with ‘Talk like TED’ in the summer and to expand it to 500 women and girls is a thrilling prospect. Northern Ireland is thriving with young women who have great ambition and ideas, so to give them such a big platform for them to share and give voice to these ideas is fantastic.

“The ambition and creativity that was displayed during the previous series from young people shows the dynamic and inspiring ideas and stories that many have. These ideas and stories should be shared. We are thrilled to have partnered with Bespoke Communications so that they can impart their fantastic knowledge of public speaking to the young girls throughout the initiative.

“In 2019, the role of women in positions of power and authority is pulled into focus and the need for balance in the worlds of leadership and politics is prevalent. To teach young women and encourage them to be the leaders of their generation is both a privilege and a duty for our society to carry out.

“It is vitally important for girls from across Northern Ireland, from all backgrounds to be confident in public speaking and unafraid of sharing and creating new ideas. The initiative will work towards grounding the skills and methods of communication that will help with speech giving and presentation and encourage them to know that their opinions and stories matter.”

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