Brown O’Connor Communications Weekly Look Ahead: Week Commencing 23 September 2019


Forward Look

  • The Supreme Court in London has been hearing arguments from the Government and opposition campaigners over the legality of Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue parliament for five weeks. A decision is expected early next week which could have significant ramifications on the constitution and the Government’s Brexit plan.

  • Sinn Féin launched “a new economic strategy for the north” this week ahead of consultation with business groups and stakeholders. The strategy identifies four key levers as good jobs, regional balance, a zero carbon economy and productivity.

  • The Department of Finance will launch “The Open Data Strategy for Northern Ireland 2020 – 2023” on Monday 14 October at the Skainos Centre in Belfast. The strategy is seen as a vital step in reaffirming the public sector’s commitment to Open Data and Open Government.

  • The Department of Finance officially launched a public consultation on business rates this week. This follows Permanent Secretary Sue Gray’s announcement of a full and comprehensive review in May. The process will involve a series of engagements across NI ahead of the consultation deadline on 11 November.

  • The Labour Party Conference will take place in Brighton next week. The position which the party takes in regards to Brexit will be central, however Jeremy Corbyn has said that he will remain “neutral” in any future referendum.

  • The Special EU Programmes Body which manages the EU’s new PEACE PLUS programmes is planning a major public consultation exercise to take place in every county in NI and the border regions of Ireland. This is expected to take place towards the end of the year and follows commitments from the UK and Irish governments and the EU that the programme will go ahead post-2020.

  • The Bank of England has kept the interest rate unchanged at 0.75%. They signalled that the UK would avoid falling into recession this year and that prolonged Brexit uncertainty would keep the interest rate lower for longer.

  • An Irish Government spokesperson has said that Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar hope to meet in New York next week.

  • SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood has said he is considering challenging Sinn Féin for the Westminster seat in Foyle. Current Foyle MP, Elisha McCallion has been selected to stand.

  • Lord Mayor of Belfast, Cllr John Finucane has announced his intention to run as MP for North Belfast in the General Election

  • NI nurses are to be balloted on industrial action up to and including strike action. The ballot opens on 9 October and will last 4 weeks.

  • The Institute for Government will launch a new report on Thursday, “Governing Without Ministers” looking at how NI has functioned without ministers for nearly 1000 days.


Other stories this week    

  • Arlene Foster addressed the Dublin Chamber of Commerce and held a meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Wednesday evening. She said that she hopes there are solutions to the Brexit impasse that involve special treatment for Northern Ireland but which do not affect the constitutional position.

  • Jean-Claude Juncker described his meeting with Boris Johnson on Monday as “positive”. He believes that a Brexit deal can be reached by 31 October.

  • Sinn Féin President, Mary-Lou McDonald held a meeting with Secretary of State, Julian Smith in Dublin on Monday. She called for the UK government to “get real” on Brexit and to deal in “facts rather than fantasy”.

  • The Irish Government published draft legislation which would extend voting rights in presidential elections to Irish citizens who are not residents of the Republic of Ireland. A referendum will follow later this year.

  • David Cameron’s autobiography, “For the Record” was released. It features his views on events throughout his premiership including the Scottish Referendum and Brexit.

  • The Liberal Democrats held their party conference this week. They overwhelmingly backed Jo Swinson’s proposal for a manifesto pledge to revoke article 50.

  • Former Conservative leadership candidate Sam Gyimah defected to the Lib Dems, becoming their 18th MP.

Upcoming key political and business events

  • 25 September, Top 100 Hospitality Businesses 2020 Launch, Hospitality Ulster, HMS Caroline

  • 27 September, DUP Business Lunch, Fortwilliam Golf Club

  • 27 September, ‘Engage Executive Talent’ Recruitment Company Launch, CO3, Merchant Hotel, Belfast

  • 8 October, ‘Changing Places: Planning, Place-Shaping and Place-Making in Northern Ireland’, NILGA, Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen

  • 11 October, Annual President’s Dinner, Derry Chamber, Everglades Hotel, Derry

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

  • 11-15 November, Derry City and Strabane District Council Trade & Investment Mission to Philadelphia and Boston

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

  • 4 December, ‘Next steps for city and growth deals in Northern Ireland – Implementation, co-ordination and ensuring inclusive growth’, Policy Forum for Northern Ireland, Belfast