New £100m NI Investment Fund

A new £100m NI Investment Fund has been launched by the Department of Finance.

CBRE Capital Advisors have been appointed to manage the Fund for 15 years.  

Agreed by the previous Executive it will focus on investment in the areas of regeneration, office and low carbon projects to deliver economic growth and is expected play a significant role in supporting private sector investment in key areas of local development over the next decade

It will lever in private finance and reinvest the £100 million over this period.

The main areas targeted for investment through this initiative are:

·        mixed use site development;

·        offices; industrial,

·        warehousing and distribution facilities;

·        research and development facilities;

·        site remediation and access;

·        other physical development that supports economic growth; energy efficiency, energy storage; energy generation from solar, wind, hydro and waste to energy projects

CBRE will be overseen by a Scrutiny Board, consisting of three private sector members and two public sector members.

The Chair will be Stephen Kirkpatrick, who has significant senior banking experience with Bank of Ireland.

The £100 million will be provided to CBRE in three tranches, with the initial £40 million tranche of funding expected to be disbursed in January 2018.

Further tranches will then depend on CBRE meeting certain commitment and disbursement targets.

Brain Injury Matters Sports & Disability Conference to take place on 23rd Nov

Brain Injury Matters, the charity dedicated to supporting people with Acquired Brain Injury to rebuild their lives, is set to host a seminal conference on sport and disability in Northern Ireland.

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The ‘ReSport’ conference supported by Capita will take place at the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park, Belfast on Thursday 23rd November and is set to explore the benefits of sport for people with disabilities, such as spinal cord injury, stroke, acquired brain injury, cerebral palsy or intellectual disability.

The line-up of speakers will range from medical professionals, sports coaches and several international guests who are expected to provide insights into the contribution of involvement in sports to the process of rehabilitation and recovery, in physical, psychological (cognitive and emotional) and social functioning.

It will explore the potential contribution of sport to disability and the promotion of wellbeing, social inclusion and quality of life.

Speakers will include:

  • Dr Suzanne Maguire, Consultant in Rehabilitation, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust;
  • Prof Aidan Moran, Professor of Cognitive Psychology, Director of Psychology Research Laboratory, School of Psychology, University College Dublin;
  • Jasna Vešligaj Damiš, Director Center Naprei, Maribor, Slovenia.

Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme, the conference will be hosted by Brain Injury Matters NI along with other European partner organisations.

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Dr Suzanne Maguire, Consultant in Rehabilitation, Musgrave Park Hospital said:

“Sport and exercise plays a vital part in the rehabilitation process and contributes towards building a positive and valued lifestyle. This conference will allow us in the medical profession to share our learning and experience of the practical outcomes of the patients that we work with on a daily basis.”

“Collaboration plays an important role in the development and rehabilitation of those that we work with and often it takes a range of professionals to support each individual.”

“Sport as a method of rehabilitation should be valued as it assists not only with physical development, but in terms of the positive psychological and social impacts that it has.”

Fiona McCabe, Chief Executive, Brain Injury Matters said:

“The purpose of this conference is to promote awareness of the potential for sport to aid rehabilitation and community reintegration for those who are living with a disability.”

“Our aim is to make sure that this event offers practical knowledge and skills for those working with disabilities in the field of sport for rehabilitation.”

“We are keen to establish a network of clinicians and sports specialists to exchange expertise, and work collaboratively and we hope that this conference will be the main driver for the development of this emerging group.”

UK-China Regional Leaders Summit: A huge opportunity for NI

This December Northern Ireland will host the 2017 UK-China Regional Leaders Summit which is a bit of a coup in securing and worth more to us than we probably realise.

This prestigious event will see over 30 Chinese provincial and municipal leaders coming to Northern Ireland and meeting and engaging with academia and businesses to build connections and enable them to identify strategic areas for economic outcomes. Which government representatives from our side will meet with these leaders is anyone’s guess, but we need to put our best foot forward.

Invest NI and a range of government departments alongside our universities, businesses and councils are in the driving seat in terms of planning and delivery of this summit. Effort is being made to make this the event it needs to be.

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Late last year I had the opportunity to visit Beijing and the Chinese provinces of Liaoning and Hubei with several elected representatives and some of our local business leaders. What struck me was the sheer size of the regions in terms of land mass, population and the opportunity that these regional marketplaces have to offer us here.

We have skills, expertise and produce that they need to develop their industries and feed the many millions of people that exist across the vast country. But the relationship must be reciprocated and they won’t give us market access unless a relationship is built and trust exists.

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From first-hand experience meeting some of these regional leaders and senior government individuals they are looking to us in the UK and Ireland to give them solutions and products across relevant sectors including FinTech, cyber security, life and health sciences, creative industries and agri-food. We can provide and more.

Clean, green and lean

China is one hell of place. Massive, populated, industrial, hi-tech. It really is worth a visit. When you are in the cities, air pollution is obvious and many walk about with air filtration masks on. The lack of rolling green fields is obvious once you get out of the urban areas.

It really struck me that our quality produce and agri-food products have a significant opportunity – even more so than it is supplying now. The Chinese need produce that has provenance, traceability and is reared in a clean and green environment which is not always available in China as the land and climate is not always available, especially when there are literally millions of people to feed. Quality and volume is the key. We need the export first mentality to make it work.  

NI Bureau in Beijing

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The hard work that the NI Executive Bureau in China is facilitating is developing friendships by identifying projects that will be of mutual and practical benefit. That is why we need summits such as the one in December so that we create the circumstances and conditions for those relationships to form and develop.

Given the period of time that the Northern Ireland Executive office has been operational in China, securing this summit is a significant achievement and demonstrates support for the Executive’s strategy for working with the regions.

These Chinese regional leaders won’t muck about. They have money to invest, a ready market and want to do business. This summit needs to be success and we must get behind it.

The Chinese have been gradually investing their time and energy into Northern Ireland. In summer 2015 they set up, for the first time, a Chinese Consulate. In 2011 the Confucius Institute was headquartered at Ulster University aimed to foster closer ties between China and Northern Ireland. The institute is a network of 500 institutes in over 140 countries which promotes and teaches Chinese language and culture and facilitates cultural exchanges aimed at fostering trade links with China. Recently the NI branch won the ‘Confucius Institute of the Year’ which is a huge accolade.

Connectivity growing

The main regions in China that we are reaching out to are getting closer with a recent announcement from carrier Cathay Pacific that they will operate a year-round service from Dublin to Hong Kong four times per week. Plans for new direct flights to mainland China are also nearing take-off with Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines preparing to launch a Dublin-Beijing direct flight.

These much-needed routes will be a fantastic addition if we are serious about getting into the Chinese market place and developing that required friendship before shaking on any business deal. We look forward to a successful UK China Regional Leaders summit in December.

Key Upcoming Political and Business Events

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  • 30 September, Green Party Annual Conference, Belfast  
  • 1-4 October, Conservative Party Conference, Manchester
  • 5 October, INVENT 2017 Awards Dinner, Waterfront Conference Centre, Belfast.
  • 6 October, IoD NI Young Directors Conference
  • 12 October, NILGA Annual Conference, La Mon Belfast
  • 13 October, Derry Chamber of Commerce President’s Dinner
  • 17 October, Consular Corps/Association of NI Diplomatic Dinner, Crowne Plaza, Belfast
  • 21 October, Ulster Unionist Party Conference
  • 25 October, Agenda NI Economic Conference
  • 2 November, TEDxStormont Women, Stormont
  • 17-18 November, Sinn Féin Ard Fheis, RDS Dublin
  • 20 November, Digital DNA Tourism, Ulster Transport Museum
  • 23 November, Brain Injury Matters, RESPORT Conference
  • 10-12 April, Peace and Beyond Conference, Belfast

Pre-Application consultation event to take place on new proposed 81 bed hotel near Belfast International Airport

Plans for a new 81 bed hotel are underway, signalling a total investment of £5million by the developer, Moorefield.

The proposal, now in its pre-application consultation phase, has been set out to meet the growing demand for additional beds at Belfast International Airport.

Reported recently, Belfast International Airport is undergoing sustained growth in terms of greater numbers of international passengers using the airport and a higher level of new passengers from the Republic of Ireland.

Thirty jobs are expected to be created in the construction phase with a further thirty full time equivalent jobs being created once the hotel is operational, should the application be successful.

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Canice Mallaghan, Moorefield Hospitality said today:

“The demand for more hotel rooms has been created by the growth and success at the International Airport. We are excited by the opportunity to bring forward a new hotel creating a range of jobs in the process. We have secured a leading hotel operator for the development.”

“We have recently completed construction of the new Airport Service Station forecourt and convenience retail outlet located close to the new proposed hotel. Marks & Spencer have already signed up as the anchor tenant as well as Irish coffee chain Insomnia who are opening their first outlet in Northern Ireland, there will be 100 full and part time jobs.”

Graham Keddie, Managing Director, Belfast International Airport, said:

“The proposed hotel development mirrors wider economic activity at the airport and is a direct result of passenger growth.”

“We have just had twenty-six consecutive months of double-digit growth and clearly there’s a demand for new passenger and visitor facilities. The hotel isn’t just good for the airport, but good for the entire area. What we are doing is delivering tangible benefit and, in so doing, creating business opportunities with great potential.” 

NILGA leadership engage directly with Brexit Ministers in London

The leadership of the Northern Ireland Local Government Association - the body which represents councils here - have pressed the case for the prioritisation of local communities & councils in Northern Ireland in the Brexit process, after securing a series of key meetings in London.

The meeting with Steve Baker MP and Robin Walker MP, both Parliamentary Under Secretaries of State for the Department for Exiting the European Union (DEXEU), is part of a wider four country delegation set up amid growing concerns presented by councils, trade and enterprise bodies together with council led cross border groups, regarding NI’s position within the EU withdrawal negotiations.

NILGA President Ald Arnold Hatch, past President Cllr Seán McPeake and Chief Executive Derek McCallan also invited the Brexit Ministers to meet in Northern Ireland as part of a clear campaign to move the Brexit piece from statistics to local people and places across NI.  

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Alderman Arnold Hatch, NILGA President

“Local government in Northern Ireland simply can’t be an afterthought, reacting to what others do or don’t do in terms of the EU referendum next steps.”

“We as councils will need to anticipate legislative and regulatory change, as well as community impact, in terms of finance and peace building. So, we are going directly to the people who are responsible for negotiating the Brexit deal.”

“We need stronger assurances from government about what this is all leading to. Our engagement with member councils and wider stakeholders shows that the impacts of Brexit are starting to bite, specifically in the manufacturing, food & drink, transport, agriculture, fisheries and construction sectors.  We need to be opportunistic also, which is why NILGA has already secured Northern Ireland as one of just two shortlisted regions for the 52 nation Commonwealth Investment Conference, which will bring major nation export opportunities in 2019 from the likes of Canada, Australia and India.”

“NILGA has developed an Economy, Investment and Rural Development Working Group, engaging with every aspect of civic and commercial society, to identify issues from councils’ perspectives early to ensure that elected representatives in charge of the negotiations hear our key requirements clearly.”

“We have been able to secure meetings with the ‘go to’ Ministers within the department responsible for Brexit and will be going in force alongside our local government partners in England, Scotland and Wales to outline the reality that we face and the importance of prioritising our needs.” 

“Without the Assembly or Executive, we are the only politically representative voice from Northern Ireland putting these issues to the government on a collective basis.”

Upcoming Key Political and Business Events (August-November)

  • 24 August, Chartered Institute of Public Relations '999 - Emergency Communications' Panel Event, Belfast

  • 30 August, (QPol) Brexit Discussion: an update on key policy considerations, QUB

  • 12 September, NI Chamber of Commerce Annual Networking Conference, St. Georges Market

  • 13 September, CBI NI Brexit Intelligence Briefing, Belfast

  • 26 September, Smart Belfast Collaborative Challenge, Belfast City Hall

  • 29 September, NI Chamber of Commerce Golf Day, Royal Belfast

  • 30 September, Green Party Annual Conference, Belfast  

  • 1-4 October, Conservative Party Conference, Manchester

  • 5 October, INVENT 2017 Awards Dinner, Waterfront Conference Centre, Belfast.

  • 6 October, IoD NI Young Directors Conference

  • 12 October, NILGA Annual Conference, La Mon Belfast

  • 13 October, Derry Chamber of Commerce Presidents Dinner

  • 17 October, Consular Corps/Association of NI Diplomatic Dinner, Crowne Plaza, Belfast

  • 21 October, Ulster Unionist Party Conference

  • 2 November, TEDxStormont Women, Stormont

  • 17/18 November, Sinn Fein Ard Fheis, RDS, Dublin

  • 25 November, DUP Party Conference TBC

Chief Executive of NILGA, Derek McCallan reacts to 'Northern Ireland and Ireland' Brexit position paper

Derek McCallan, Chief Executive of NILGA (Northern Ireland Local Government Association) said:

“We welcome the fact that there have been some views outlined in a number of position papers on the Brexit hot topics in the last few days.”

“However, we are still miles from specifics. We need stronger assurances from government about what this is all leading to – clear options for key partner bodies in manufacturing, farming, local government, construction, and so on, to comment upon - what reality will look like for local people and businesses.”

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“Without an Assembly we’re in a vulnerable position. The increasing disconnect between what is going on in London and the delivery of services on the ground here must be halted and we cannot have a shift back to centralist policies and decision making. Councils can be the antidote to this.”  

“We are calling for councils to be given real powers and real resources as part of solving this widening democratic deficit - before we are literally disempowered and made uncompetitive as an economic region.”

“NILGA has asserted for some time that you can’t run an economy in a political bubble. There is a backlog of important policies and legislation materially affecting how councils and others provide the public with services. Surely it would be a mature and rational thing to sit down with local councils and push through whatever legislation or policy is needed to move ahead, on matters like regeneration, a new Code of Conduct, resources for Emergency Planning - councils simply want to be a substantial part of the solutions needed right now.”

“NILGA is working with all councils and industry partners on driving our economy forward. We will raise these issues in the next few weeks when we travel to London as part of the UK’s four local government bodies meeting with Brexit Minister Steve Baker MP.”

“We will also have committed to engage directly with James Brokenshire MP, the NI Secretary of State, Simon Coveney TD and the Committee of the Regions in Brussels.”

Pathway to the Irish General Election 2018

The Sunday Independent had some great info last weekend on the moves towards a General Election in the south in early 2018 - here's the skinny:

Fine Gael is preparing for a general election as early as next spring.

The party has been put on full election mode by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with Fine Gael officials told to advance preparations for the snap poll.

Varadkar has also set up a ‘war council’ comprising of ministers and senior party officials.

The internal ‘war council’ committee has held its first behind-closed-doors meeting in July and is now expected to meet every month once the Dail returns in September.

Fianna Fail have also stated that they will anticipate an election in spring next year well in advance of the scheduled end of the party’s supply and confidence agreement with Fine Gael.

Varadkar has also instructed senior Fine Gael officials to hold meetings with constituency chairs to ensure that they are election ready.

FG expects to complete up to 10 selection conventions before December with a view to finishing the process early next year. Fianna Fail have already held 5 selection conventions this year with more to follow

FG will hold its party conference in November.

A future coalition government involving Sinn Féin must have a strategy for Irish unification, party leader Gerry Adams has indicated.

Mr Adams said his party will place an emphasis on housing, the health service and Brexit as part of any post-election negotiations on forming a coalition government.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has commissioned a white paper on a united Ireland, which is due to be completed later this year.

Gerry Adams has said Sinn Féin is open to going into coalition with either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil is in effect formalising the party’s move away from its previous stance that it would only enter government as the lead party.

Although such a change in position has to be ratified by a Sinn Féin ardfheis, Adams has said “Sinn Féin is open to negotiating with other parties to deliver a republican programme of government and real change in the lives of citizens”.

The Irish Budget will take place on 11 October.

Live Consultations in Northern Ireland