Belfast Film Festival gears up for its strongest year yet as 19th programme is launched

Michele Devlin, Festival Director of the Belfast Film Festival with Derry-born actress Bronagh Gallagher, who stars in “A Bump Along the Way” which will be shown on the opening night of the 2019 Belfast Film Festival.

Michele Devlin, Festival Director of the Belfast Film Festival with Derry-born actress Bronagh Gallagher, who stars in “A Bump Along the Way” which will be shown on the opening night of the 2019 Belfast Film Festival.

A record number of people are expected to attend the Belfast Film Festival which will launch today in the Black Box in Belfast. 

The festival will take place from 11th April to 20th April.  Now in its 19th year, the event has seen sustained growth in audience numbers annually since 2000.  This year it will screen 90 feature films and 80 shorts over 10 days, the programme is packed with premieres, international talent, new local work, events and special guests.  It is anticipated that this year’s event will attract more visitors than ever. 

In a real coup for the organisers, superstar of Indian film, Aamir Khan will travel to Belfast to take part in the festival, in his first ever visit to Ireland.  One of the world’s most successful actors, directors and producers.  He is well known internationally for his humanitarian work and will take part in an “In Conversation” event in the Waterfront Hall main auditorium.

Aamir Khan’s prolific career spans thirty years in film and he has a staggering 24 million twitter followers. His visit kicks off a new five-year ‘Cultural Diversity in Film’ project that will shine a spotlight on Polish, Chinese and Indian film.

Other special guests visiting this year include the star of “Angela’s Ashes” and “Trainspotting” Robert Carlyle who will be in Belfast to receive the Outstanding Contribution to Film award and take part in a public Q&A. 

One of Ireland’s most celebrated directors, Lenny Abrahamson will attend the festival.  Abrahamson directed ‘Room’ which received multiple Oscar nominations in 2015 and other acclaimed films including What Richard Did (2012) and Frank (2014). 

Local talent will be celebrated on the Festival’s opening night with a special cast and crew screening of “A Bump Along the Way” written by Tess McGovern and directed by Shelly Love, the new movie stars Derry born Bronagh Gallagher and is produced by her sister Louise Gallagher.

Director of Belfast Film Festival, Michele Devlin, said:

“I am thrilled to finally unveil the programme for this year’s Belfast Film Festival. It includes a fantastic mix of global and local, with a huge range of events from pop up puppet theatre to an event with one of the biggest movie stars in the world.

“We’ve seen Belfast Film Festival grow from strength to strength over the years and it has now become a cornerstone of the Belfast events calendar, bringing in tourists to the city and adding a real boost to the local economy.

“Our audiences are diverse, and we attract people from the ages of 8 to 80 and from every possible background and culture, to our screenings and events. The launch of the five-year diversity in film project will not only widen our appeal to different audiences, it will introduce more people to new and exciting films.

“I’m also excited by the fact that our consistent growth means that we have been able to launch a new documentary film festival - Doc Fest Ireland which will be held in June this year, and which will have an industry focus.  Doc Fest Ireland will bring an array of leading figures in the European and International film industry to Belfast, the only major documentary festival on the island of Ireland to do so. This development will be crucial to the continued development of Ireland as a destination for making and producing great documentaries for TV and cinema.

“The sustained growth of Belfast Film Festival year on year just goes to show the passion and desire for quality cinema here in Belfast.”

Bronagh Gallagher, who stars in “A Bump Along the Way” which will be shown on the opening night of the 2019 Belfast Film Festival, with festival director Michele Devlin.

Bronagh Gallagher, who stars in “A Bump Along the Way” which will be shown on the opening night of the 2019 Belfast Film Festival, with festival director Michele Devlin.

Mark Cousins, Chair of the Belfast Film Festival said:

“This year’s Belfast Film Festival is a real celebration of all that is great about cinema. With films from 34 different countries, this year’s programme is a truly exciting blend of cultures and styles.

“Belfast Film Festival is fast attracting an international reputation for curating wonderful programmes to amaze and thrill cinema goers. I am so excited by the festival’s outward looking attitude and our five-year diversity in film project will spotlight some of the best in international cinema.

“To kick that off we are honoured to have the incredible film star and humanitarian, Aamir Khan as our guest of honour.  If you haven't seen his films this is a perfect opportunity to treat yourself. His epic entertainments have the spirit of Frank Capra movies and he draws on the very best of Hindi film.

This will be his first visit to Ireland and we are so proud that he has chosen Belfast as the place where he will spend most of his time.”

Top 5 Picks of the 2019 Belfast Film Festival Programme

11 April Opening Night – A Bump Along the Way

Starring Bronagh Gallagher, written by Tess McGowan, directed by Shelly Love and produced by Louise Gallagher, the film centres around the awkward relationship between immature mum Pamela and disapproving daughter, Allegra.

12 April

Star of movies such as Trainspotting and Angela’s Ashes, Robert Caryle will receive the Oustanding Contribution to Film Award and will join Brian Henry Martin in conversation at the Dublin Road Movie House.

13 April

Award-winning Irish screenwriter and director Lenny Abrahamson takes part in a public conversation in the Queen’s Film Theatre.

16 April

Indian film megastar Aamir Khan will take part in a public conversation at the Belfast Waterfront.

20 April

Closing night gala – Beats. A universal story of friendship, rebellion and the irresistible power

of gathered youth. The final Belfast Film Festival event to take place in the Dublin Road Movie House.


Belfast-based HIV charity wins UK-wide GSK IMPACT Award

Positive Life, a charity that helps people living with or affected by HIV in Northern Ireland, has been selected from more than 370 organisations across the UK as one of 10 winners of the 2019 GSK IMPACT Awards.

 The GSK IMPACT Awards are a national programme that recognise and reward small and medium sized charities that are doing excellent work to improve people’s health and wellbeing in communities across the UK. Winners will receive £30,000 in unrestricted funding as well as expert support and leadership development provided by The King’s Fund.

CEO of Positive Life, Jacquie Richardson

CEO of Positive Life, Jacquie Richardson

Positive Life is the only Northern Irish charity which works specifically with people with HIV and in the first quarter of 2018 saw demand for their services rise by 80% compared to the previous year. It offers one-to-one support for people with HIV and their families, HIV testing, complementary therapies, a confidential helpline and peer support. In 2016/17, the last year for which figures are available, Northern Ireland was the only country in the UK to see an increase in the number of people diagnosed with HIV with 41% of people diagnosed at late stage.

The charity works hard to combat stigma and educate the public, working closely with the Government to improve services for people with HIV. It played a key role in getting the Department of Health NI to roll out Pre-Exposure Prophylactics (PReP drugs which block transmission of HIV) and promote HIV testing and safe sex. It has also worked with Northern Ireland political parties to table a debate around HIV, lift the ban on gay men giving blood and decriminalise the sale of HIV self-testing kits.

Katie Pinnock, Director of UK and Ireland Charitable Partnerships at GSK, said: 

“Positive Life is delivering excellent services in a challenging environment. Many HIV positive people experience stigma and marginalisation, resulting in high levels of depression, anxiety and isolation. Despite being a small charity, by listening to and working with the people who use their services, they have had a big impact. The judges were impressed with the organisation’s work with the Government and the changes it was able to make.”

Chief Executive of Positive Life, Jacquie Richardson said:

“I’m very happy that Positive Life has been named as one of the ten winners of the 2019 GSK IMPACT Awards. It’s an honour to be included with other wonderful charities doing such fantastic work.

“The generous funding that comes with this award will allow us to continue to deliver our absolutely vital services to people living with HIV in Northern Ireland. Just as important is the tailored training and leadership development that comes with the award and applying this is also going to be incredibly beneficial to our organisation. Access to this kind of specialised support and to the IMPACT Awards Network will help us grow as a charity and ultimately help more people.

“This award is a wonderful recognition of the work that Positive Life has done, and is doing, which impacts on the lives of many people here. In the last few years we have made some really important progress in terms of changing the conversation and challenging the stigma around HIV.

“Despite this progress, unfortunately in Northern Ireland there is still a real problem with stigma for people who are living with HIV. This stigma impacts on people’s lives in lots of different and horrible ways. Sadly, there are some people for who the only real connection they have with others is through our organisation and that makes the services we provide all the more important.”

Developing leaders in the charity sector is a key aim of the GSK IMPACT Awards programme. All winners will be invited to take part in a tailored leadership development programme provided by The King’s Fund. They will also be invited to join the GSK IMPACT Awards Network, a national network of over 80 previous award winners working together to develop leaders, find new ways of working, and provide mutual support. 

Positive Life will receive their award at a ceremony held at the Science Museum in London in May, along with nine other 2019 GSK IMPACT Award winners.

Over 100 from business community turn out for Londonderry Chamber Brexit Business Breakfast

Over 100 guests from the local business community turned out to the City Hotel for a Brexit Breakfast hosted by the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce in association with international law firm Eversheds Sutherland on Friday.

Hosted by Broadcaster Mark Carruthers, the event included Brian McGrath, President of the Chamber and Chief Executive of Foyle Port, Aodhán Connolly from the NI Retail Consortium and Lisa Bryson, Head of Employment and Immigration at Eversheds Sutherland.

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The keynote address was given by Peter Curran, Partner at Eversheds Sutherland which has offices in Dublin and Belfast.

Brian McGrath, President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce:

“This was a timely event as we are now at the sharp end of the complex debate on Brexit.”

“It was clear from the mood of the business community that a no deal Brexit would be a disaster for businesses and companies in the North West region. Given our proximity to the border and reliance on seamless cross-border trade and travel, local businesses expressed in no uncertain terms that they would be acutely impacted by the fall out of a no deal.”

We only have to remind ourselves of the letter last week from the Head of the Civil Service, David Sterling that a no deal Brexit does not come with any guarantees about the continuation of cross-border trade as we know it. We must have a frictionless border so that businesses and people across the North West can continue to do what they do every day. Many guests at the event said that it is vital that we have the softest Brexit possible and avoid a no deal at all costs.”


The event comes after Eversheds Sutherland issued a warning that the vast majority of businesses in Northern Ireland have still not started preparing for the legal ramifications of Brexit, launching a ‘Brexit checklist’ in response.

The law firm, one of only a handful of firms awarded Tier 1 status for their Brexit-related legal advice by the Legal 500, has warned that Northern Irish Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have still not done enough to prepare themselves for the potential impact on their business as things stand at the moment with less than a month to go before the UK is scheduled to leave the EU.

The simple checklist has been launched to support and assist clients in assessing some key Brexit-related legal risks.

Despite businesses being urged to review their operations to put in place contingency plans, according to a recent survey carried out by AIB, only 2% of SMEs in Northern Ireland have a formal Brexit plan in place. SMEs are defined as companies that employ less than 250 people and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has estimated that they account for approximately 75% of the private sector employment in Northern Ireland. 

Uncertainty around whether a Brexit deal will be agreed and what that deal might look like has meant that many businesses have been unsure of the best way to prepare and this uncertainty has prevented many from even starting.

Lisa Bryson, Partner, and member of the Eversheds Sutherland Ireland Brexit hub who was one of the panelists at the event on Friday said:

“Brexit is the biggest political, constitutional and economic change to these islands in over half a century. It is a cause for some concern that there are so many Small and Medium Enterprises that have not started formally planning for how it’s going to impact on their businesses, but it’s not too late to start.”

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“Of course, it can seem counter intuitive to plan for something that may not even happen. As negotiations between the UK and EU continue up until the last minute and with the Prime Minister offering MPs a chance to prevent a no-deal Brexit, some may feel that they are being asked to prepare for the unknown or the unlikely.”

“However, this uncertainty is all the more reason for businesses to prepare. Whether the UK and the EU agree a deal or there’s a no-deal Brexit or even if there’s a delay to the whole process, it is vitally important that firms, especially SMEs realise just how much this can impact on their business.”

“It’s not just tariffs. Brexit has the potential to affect employment law and the ability of firms to hire EU nationals which can have a significant impact especially on the agri-food sector. It also has the potential to have an impact on contracts with customers and suppliers.”

“We have created a simple checklist to support and assist clients in assessing some key Brexit-related legal risks.  It serves as a prompt for the type of questions businesses should be asking and provides an indication of those areas in which a further audit or more detailed advice or assessment would be beneficial.  Of course this checklist does not address every conceivable eventuality so it will be important for each business to consider its own particular circumstances based on factors such as its location, trading relationships in the EU, regulatory environment, location of key customers and suppliers, as well as the make-up of its workforce.”

“If you haven’t done any planning at all yet, this checklist is a good place to start asking the questions which might present some legal risk to your business so that you can take steps to mitigate against those risks. You should also remember that you do not need to do this alone.  Many trade organisations have Brexit guidance available which consider in detail matters such as trade, customs considerations, taxation arrangements and the importance of understanding your supply chain.  Furthermore, InterTrade Ireland and InvestNI both have schemes in place which can provide financial support for Brexit-related planning, including legal advice from Eversheds Sutherland.

“We have a Brexit hub dedicated to providing legal advice to firms of any size and anyone seeking further help should get in touch.”


Charity chief to warn that HIV myths putting women at risk

The head of Northern Ireland’s only dedicated HIV charity is expected to warn that more must be done to combat the myths around HIV to help women take control of their sexual health at an event to mark International Women’s Day on Friday 8 March.

Jacquie Richardson, the chief executive of Positive Life, is expected to say that the perception of HIV as only affecting certain sections of the community is just one of the harmful myths that still exists in Northern Ireland and that it is having a negative impact on women’s sexual health.

In her remarks, she is expected to call for greater openness, more honesty and better education around sex and sexual health. She will also warn that misinformation and stigma leaves many women living with HIV in Northern Ireland excluded from society.

While HIV predominantly affects men who have sex with men, the HIV Surveillance Report 2018 showed approximately 20% of those who accessed care for HIV in 2017 in NI were women. Positive Life has previously documented the prejudice, negative attitudes and abuse that both men and women living with HIV in Northern Ireland face.

Jacquie Richardson will address the Alternative Ms Ulster event at Parliament buildings in Stormont on 8 March hosted by Clare Bailey MLA to mark International Women’s Day.

Chief Executive of Positive Life, Jacquie Richardson

Chief Executive of Positive Life, Jacquie Richardson

Positive Life is Northern Ireland’s only dedicated HIV charity. It supports and promotes positive living for people with and affected by HIV. Positive Life offers one-to-one support for people with HIV and their families, HIV testing, complementary therapies, a confidential helpline and peer support.

Chief Executive of Positive Life, Jacquie Richardson said:

“I’m looking forward to talking at this event about the importance of women taking control of their sexual health and combatting the stigma that prevents us from talking about these important issues.”

“It’s true that HIV primarily affects men who have sex with men but it’s important to remember that it can affect anyone, we help men and women and the people who use our services come from every walk of life and every background.”

“International Women’s Day is a good time to talk about the need for women to be able to take control of their own sexual health and what we can all do to support that.”

“We need open and honest conversations around sex and sexual health, and we need comprehensive sex education to ensure that everyone has the ability to take care of themselves.”

Clare Bailey MLA said:

On International Women’s Day the Alternative Ms Ulster event returns to Parliament Buildings in Stormont, a fantastic opportunity to showcase the issues that matter to women in Northern Ireland and to highlight the excellent work being done to empower women across Northern Ireland, including the promotion of good sexual health.”

“The theme for this year’s event is “Women Rise Up” and taking ownership of our sexual health is a great example of women rising up to deal with an issue that is incredibly important.”

“Good relationship and sexuality education is key to good sexual health and essential to empower women. Women need the right education, the right tools and for all of us to combat the attitude around sex and sexual health that makes it difficult for people here to discuss those issues. This means it’s also vitally important that we work together to combat the stigma that those living with HIV in NI face every day.”

Hospitality Ulster reacts to Head of Civil Service Brexit warning letter to local political parties

Reacting to the letter sent to the political parties from the Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, David Sterling, the Chief Executive of Hospitality Ulster, Colin Neill reacted:

“The content of the letter which the Head of the Civil Service, David Sterling sent to the political parties here should sound a loud panic alarm as we move closer to the original predicted EU exit date. This letter only serves to re-affirm what a complete mess a no-deal situation would be for Northern Ireland and the negative impact it will have on us here.”

“The hospitality sector has far too much to lose in a no-deal scenario in terms of wholly unwanted direct impacts to the likes of its workforce and supply chains. How are we as an industry expected to prosper and contribute to the Northern Ireland economy when we are seemingly headed towards a cliff edge with dire and serious consequences as specified by David Sterling.”

“We have to avoid a no-deal at all costs and call on all our politicians and those in Great Britain to focus their minds on getting a deal sorted.”

Colin Neill, Chief Executive, Hospitality Ulster

Colin Neill, Chief Executive, Hospitality Ulster


New Economic Advisory Firm ‘Perspective Economics’ launched in Belfast

An innovative new economic and policy advisory firm, Perspective Economics, has been set up in Belfast.

Led by two experienced local economists, Jonathan Hobson and Sam Donaldson, Perspective Economics is located in one of Belfast’s newest office developments, River House.

Director, Jonathan Hobson and Associate Director, Sam Donaldson

Director, Jonathan Hobson and Associate Director, Sam Donaldson

They work with a wide range of public and private sector clients to undertake sectoral research, appraisals, data analytics, impact assessments and evaluations. The team has expertise in key sectors including digital and cyber security, health and life sciences and urban economics.

Newly established, the firm has already secured clients across the UK and Ireland, including a recent appointment by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to conduct a detailed economic study of the UK’s cyber security sector which will help to inform government policy and interventions.

They also have a contract with University Hospitals Birmingham, the UK’s largest Foundation Trust, to understand the impact of public investment in new medical technologies.

In Northern Ireland, they have been working closely with several local and devolved government bodies to provide economic advisory services.

The firm is growing rapidly and as a result, is currently recruiting for new economic and policy analysts to join the team. The team is projected to grow to 12 employees in the next three years.

The Perspective Economics team, based in River House, Belfast

The Perspective Economics team, based in River House, Belfast

Director, Jonathan Hobson said:

“We’ve both previously provided economic and policy advice as part of larger corporate consulting businesses.  Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen the potential impact that emerging technology could have within what has been a relatively risk adverse industry. 

“We knew that to maximise the benefit of these new technologies for our clients, and for the public good, we needed to be more agile.  By being honest, flexible and evidence-led we want to help change the face of economic consulting – focussing on adding real value for our clients.”

Associate Director, Sam Donaldson commented:

“Now more than ever, there is a need for our clients to understand what makes sectors, economies and societies tick – and to understand how they can best support sustainable and inclusive growth. We’ve invested heavily in data-driven methodologies to make sure that our team provide meaningful and relevant insight that visualises, engages and drives evidence-informed policy-making.”

City Deals on the agenda at #APNI19

By Jason Ashford.

By Jason Ashford.

The Alliance Party’s 49th annual conference was held on Saturday 2 March at the Stormont Hotel in Belfast.

The location of the conference, directly opposite Parliament Buildings, was a stark reminder of the more than two years Northern Ireland has now gone without a functioning devolved administration.

With the Assembly still not restored, no representation at Westminster and local government elections just two months away, the party spent much of the day focusing closely on the role of local government. As party leader Naomi Long said in her speech “it is crucial that we focus all of our energy and resources in the next 8 weeks to ensure that the one tier of government which is working continues to deliver".

The importance of local government was specifically highlighted at the first panel of the conference which focused on the Belfast City Deal.

There were some references to the advanced negotiations around the North West City Deal which would seek to revolutionise the economy in the Derry and Strabane District Council area, however the panel focused almost entirely on the Belfast City Deal which was announced in last year’s budget.

With contributions from Bill Wolsey, the owner of Belfast’s Merchant Hotel, Rajesh Rana, the President of the Belfast Chamber of Commerce, Raffaella Folli of Ulster University, Glyn Roberts of Retail NI and chaired by Councillor Nuala McAllister, former Lord Mayor of Belfast, the panel discussed the “game-changing” nature of the Belfast City Deal.

The City Deal panel at the Alliance Party’s 49th annual conference.

The City Deal panel at the Alliance Party’s 49th annual conference.

There was reference to the 20,000 jobs the City Deal is projected to create, the unprecedented nature of collaboration between NI’s University’s in R&D and the potential £1bn investment that the deal would attract.

There was a consensus from business, university and political representatives that the City Deal would revolutionise the Northern Irish economy, however there was also an acknowledgement that the City Deal alone was not enough to ensure sustainable growth in Northern Ireland’s economy.

The restoration of a functioning Assembly was identified as being necessary to encourage economic growth, with Belfast Chamber President Rajesh Rana saying "Political stability is something you take for granted when you have it and something you really miss when you don't have it".

Rajesh Rana also identified devolving regeneration powers to local councils as the first action a restored Assembly should take, to enable local government to utilise their planning powers effectively.

Glyn Roberts of Retail NI identified the root and branch reformation of the business rates system as being necessary to promote economic growth in NI, saying “We need to fix our broken and antiquated system of business rates".

Bill Wolsey also called for the reformation of Northern Ireland’s licensing laws to help support the hospitality sector, which he said is projected to be bigger than both the manufacturing and agriculture sector in the next decade.

Brown O'Connor Communications Political and Business Diary March - May 2019

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1 March, The Management and Leadership SuMMit 2019

2 March, Alliance Party Conference, Stormont Hotel

4 March, Belfast City Council meeting

5 March, CBI Brexit Briefing

5 March, NICVA Running a charitable company

5 March, Belfast Chamber of Commerce Making Tax Digital Seminar

6 March, NI Chamber Networking Series – Derry/Londonderry

7 March, FSB NI Celebrating Small Business Awards

7 March, CO3 Leadership Awards 2019

7 March, Ulster in Bloom Awards

8 March, Brexit: What’s Next? Londonderry Chamber of Commerce and Eversheds Sutherland

8 March, Women in Planning NI International Women’s Day Breakfast Event

8 March, IoD NI Women’s Leadership Conference

8 March, NILGA Executive Meeting

8 March, NI Chamber Energy Forum in partnership with SONI

8 March, Consumer Parliament

8 March, Alternative Ms Ulster 2019

13 March, Belfast Chamber of Commerce, How to Network Effectively by David Meade

13 March, NICVA Preparing to Tender

13 March, NICVA Governance for new and nearly new trustees

13 March, Launch of Belfast Film Festival

14 March, John Bercow MP ‘How Parliament Works: A view from the Chair’ lecture at Queen’s University

14 March, Insider Northern Ireland Dealmakers Awards

14 March, NICVA Effective Lobbying and Campaigning Training

14 March, Surviving on the High Street Business Breakfast Event by the Lisburn Chamber of Commerce

15 March, DANI Awards 2019

20 March, Meet Belfast Chamber Event

21 March, NICVA Managing the Media with Sarah Travers

22 March, FMB Northern Ireland Master Builder Awards Gala Dinner

22 March, Deadline for Belfast Business Awards

25 – 31 March, Imagine Belfast Festival

27 March, NI Chamber, Danske Bank Export First Exporter Forum

28 March, Digital DNA Awards 2019

28 March, Royal Town Planning Institute NI Annual Dinner 2019




1 April, DisruptHR Belfast

1 April, Belfast City Council meeting

2 April, Queen’s University William J Clinton Leadership Institute for Non-Financial Managers Programme

2 April, The Business of Diversity Lunch by Women in Business and Diversity Mark NI

3 April, Digital Energy Conference 2019, Mansion House Dublin

3 April, NICVA Risk Management for the Board

3 April, CBI MSB Network Event

3 April, NI Chamber Connecting for Growth Cross Border Networking

4 April, Belfast City Council Measuring Social Impact Workshop

5 April, Northern Ireland Construction Law Conference

5 April, Queen’s University of Belfast, Chamber Choir Concert

5 April, Northern Ireland Equality and Diversity Gala and Awards

8 April, Chartered Accounts Ireland, Ulster Society Annual Dinner

10 April, Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, GDPR and Data Protection Responsibilities Workshop

11 – 20 April, Belfast Film Festival

11 April, Belfast City Council Brexit Committee Meeting

11 – 12 April, Northern Ireland Branch of the British Psychological Society Conference 2019

12 April, Belfast Careers Fair

16 April, Belfast Chamber Networking

16 April, Women in Business Perfect Your Pitching Skills

17 April, IoD NI New Director Bootcamp

18 April, Women in Business New Members Networking

30 April, NI Chamber International Trade Training

30 April, NICVA Financial Reporting to the Board

30 April, Meet Belfast Chamber Event




1 May, EURES Cross Border Tax Breakfast Briefing in partnership with the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce

2 May, NI Chamber Connecting for Growth Cross Border Networking

2 May, Northern Ireland Local Government Elections

2 May, Belfast Telegraph Business Gala and Awards

7 May, Smart Social Media for Travel Professionals

8 May, NICVA Trustee responsibilities under GDPR

9 May, Getting to know NI Chamber

10 May, Belfast Business Awards 2019

16 May, Danske Bank Export First Private Dinner

16 May, CIPD Northern Ireland HR Awards 2019

17 May, IoD Northern Ireland Director of the Year Awards 2019

17 May, Institute of Hospitality Awards for Professionalism

21 May, Northern Ireland Meet the Buyer 2019

22 May, Meet Belfast Chamber Event

22 May, Queen’s University, Working with teams under pressure

23 May, CBI Annual Dinner Northern Ireland

23 May, IoD NI New and Renew Member Lunch

23 May, Women in Business Influence the Decision Makers

23 May, European Parliament Elections

28 May, University of Ulster Northern Ireland Graduate Recruitment Fair

29 May, Belfast Chamber Meet the Supplier Seminar

30 May, NI Chamber Developing Your Growth Potential – High Performance Networking

30 May, Northern Ireland Tourism Awards 2019

30 May, Responsible Business Awards Gala Dinner 2019

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Hospitality Ulster reacts to NI Budget

Reacting to the NI Budget Colin Neill, Chief Executive, Hospitality Ulster has slammed it as an own goal

“Whilst additional money for the health service, broadband and infrastructure projects are to be welcomed, we feel that this Budget did not address the growing problem of business rates in Northern Ireland being higher than anywhere else in the UK. This ignores the fact the many business in GB with a NAV of £51,000 now get 30% business rate relief, so a pub in Sheffield with a rateable value of £37,750 will save £6,178 in business rates next year, whilst the same pub here gets nothing. This Budget may plug a gap, bu

t has missed the boat in terms of addressing our out of control business rates and funding to assist the development of our town and cities across Northern Ireland. We need a budget that helps the likes of the hospitality sector proposer and plan for the medium to long term. This budget yet again highlights the fact that we need to see the return of the Assembly to properly represent us, bring forward more effective budgetary planning and progress outdated legislation such as the Liquor Licensing Bill.”

Colin Neill, Chief Executive, Hospitality Ulster

Economic outlook based on the Bank of England’s Latest Inflation Report.

On Tuesday 19 February, Bank of England NI Deputy Agent Gillian Anderson gave an update on the economic outlook based on the Bank of England’s Latest Inflation Report.

Some of the key points that were highlighted were:

  • Generally, businesses in the UK and Northern Ireland are not prepared for a no-deal Brexit.

  • Business investment was rising after the 2008 recession, but when the Referendum act was passed, it plateaued. Historically, by this stage after a recession, investment should be much higher, but the uncertainty of Brexit has caused it to slow.

  • Most businesses think both output and employment will be affected negatively by a no-deal outcome.

  • There has been a recent dip in consumer spending recently and it is projected it will be weak over 2019.

  • The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) target for inflation is 2%, the most recent figures had it at 1.8% (this was due to falling oil and gas prices).

  • It is expected that inflation will remain below target but will grow throughout 2019.

  • In the immediate term, economic growth is likely to be weak.

  • All of the economic data is expected to be very volatile and so there is no certainty about what will happen in the immediate, short and medium term.

  • A stress test was recently carried out on the UK banking system to replicate the impact of a no-deal Brexit and the indication is that the system could survive a no-deal Brexit.

  • Employment growth has remained strong, however many businesses have indicated that Brexit will have a negative impact on employment. The strength in the labour market is likely to be a delayed reaction feeding through the economy.

  • Global economic growth has slowed which has filtered through to the UK economy an exports have fallen.

  • All of the Bank’s projections are based on a smooth transition in Brexit so the level of uncertainty is incredibly high.

The key issue that was highlighted, was that uncertainty around Brexit meant that all economic data is extremely volatile, so making economic predictions is very difficult.