Young Derry/L’Derry Woman Tegan Nesbitt wins final speaker slot at TEDxStormont

Winner of ‘Talk like TED’, Tegan Nesbitt with the judging panel, (Left to right) Mark Browne, The Executive Office, Eva Grosman, TEDxStormont Curator and Pippa Arlow, Smarts

Winner of ‘Talk like TED’, Tegan Nesbitt with the judging panel, (Left to right) Mark Browne, The Executive Office, Eva Grosman, TEDxStormont Curator and Pippa Arlow, Smarts

Tegan Nesbitt has won the final speaker slot at TEDxStormont which takes place on 31 August at Parliament Buildings, Stormont as part of the Urban Villages and Smarts backed ‘Talk like TED’ series.

Tegan was selected by a panel of expert judges after the final part of the programme which took place in the Long Gallery at Stormont.

Following an intensive bootcamp style training programme over 5 weeks, Tegan along with 8 other finalists from Urban Villages areas took to the floor at the Long Gallery to deliver powerful and moving talks about different aspects of their lives, all centred around the TEDxStormont 2019 theme of ‘Imagine’.

Winner of TEDxStormont’s ‘Talk like TED’ Tegan Nesbitt from Derry/L’Derry said:

I can’t believe I’ve won. It’s been such an incredible experience for all of us. We have learnt so much about communication and speech making during the workshops and winning today has topped it all. To win the chance to deliver a talk at Stormont is really special, and to be given such a big platform is fantastic.

“On behalf of all the participants, I’d like to say a big thank you to Sarah and Camilla for being such great mentors to us over the workshops, really showing us the ropes of how to deliver a talk, and helping us get to the root of what we wanted to say. We’d also like to thank Urban Villages for providing us with this opportunity and seeing our potential to ‘Talk like TED’.

“I can’t wait to go on to the big day at TEDxStormont and deliver my talk to an even bigger audience with all the other incredible speakers. I’m also thrilled to begin my mentorship with Smarts. A huge opportunity for me to learn more about communications and advance my strengths and abilities in that field, from what I have learnt during the process.”

Sponsor of the ‘Talk like TED’ programme and one of the judges, Global Chief Executive of global PR and content agency, Smarts, Pippa Arlow:

“This has been such a fantastic programme and Smarts has been delighted to partner up with TEDxStormont to deliver such an incredible initiative for the young participants. We have been so excited and inspired by the level of talent on offer, and Tegan’s talk was so beautifully put together and refreshing, a thoroughly deserved winner. We’re very much looking forward to welcoming Tegan to Smarts to take part in our mentorship programme and hope she finds it to be rewarding experience.”

Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Executive Office, Mark Browne said:

“The sheer level of talent that was on display today was exceptional and really showcased the thoughtful and inspiring vision the younger generation have for the future of Northern Ireland. It was extremely difficult to choose just one to go to TEDxStormont, as each of the participants truly brought a passion and excitement to their personal stories.

“Tegan gave a strong and motivating talk, really drawing on their personal experiences to deliver a stirring message about hoping for a better future. We believe that Tegan will be a real stand out and fantastic addition to this year’s TEDxStormont line-up. We can’t wait to see them on that red spot in the coming weeks.”

Curator of TEDxStormont, Eva Grosman also added:

“Firstly, I would like to say a huge well done to all the participants of this year’s ‘Talk like TED’, it has been a wonderful lead up to the TEDxStormont event on 31 August. When launching the ‘Talk like TED’ initiative, we never thought we would have such a caliber of amazing young people wanting to join us.

“Tegan has shown us the skills and speaking ability that is required to be a TEDx speaker. They showed the panel, and the audience today their charisma and strength, along with a striking talk that got to the core of our overall theme of imagine. A truly worthy winner.

“We would also like to extend a massive thank you to Urban Villages and Smarts for being such a fantastic sponsors of the initiative and helping to make it happen. The support they have provide our participants has been incredible and has enhanced the experience no end.”

Trade NI meets with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP

Mary Meehan, Glyn Roberts and Colin Neill of Trade NI meet with Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell MP

Mary Meehan, Glyn Roberts and Colin Neill of Trade NI meet with Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell MP

Trade NI, Northern Ireland’s largest business coalition, representing Manufacturing NI, Hospitality Ulster and Retail NI has today met with the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell who is visiting Belfast.

 Trade NI representatives Colin Neill, Glyn Roberts and Mary Meehan said:

“This was an excellent meeting with the Shadow Chancellor, covering Brexit, Business Rates, Infrastructure and other challenges facing our members. We outlined our ideas to reboot economic policy in Northern Ireland”

“We made it very clear of the importance of getting a EU withdrawal deal and avoiding the damaging scenario of a no deal Brexit. Labour party MPs have a key role in ensuring that Parliament does not allow the UK to crash out without a deal”

“Trade NI also outlined our concerns over Business Rates, with Northern Ireland having the highest rates in the UK with very few reliefs which businesses in other parts of the UK receive. Nor did we receive our fair share of the Future High Streets Fund and we are also falling behind the rest of the UK in relation to infrastructure investment”

 “At our meeting we encouraged the Labour party to publish its policy priorities for the Northern Ireland economy. Trade NI would be interested in engaging further with Shadow Ministers to help shape their policy.”

Final TEDxStormont spot up for grabs – showdown to find one young speaker to take place at Stormont on 8 August

‘Talk like TED’ participants Rebecca Toolan, Tegan Nesbitt, Nathan Ignacio Alexio, Amy Doherty, Jack Ellison, Beth Vance, Maria McStravick and Catriona Walsh

‘Talk like TED’ participants Rebecca Toolan, Tegan Nesbitt, Nathan Ignacio Alexio, Amy Doherty, Jack Ellison, Beth Vance, Maria McStravick and Catriona Walsh

Eight young participants from the Urban Villages areas in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry will meet for a final head-to-head to decide who will win the coveted final spot in this year’s TEDxStormont line-up on 31 August at the Great Hall, Parliament Buildings, Stormont.

The ‘Talk like TED’ programme, which has been supported by The Executive Office Urban Villages Initiative along with global PR and content agency, Smarts, will see the finalists battle it out on 8 August at Stormont, delivering a range of talks on their unique and special experiences all centered around the TEDxStormont theme of ‘Imagine’.

The young storytellers will assemble in front of an esteemed panel of communications and good relations experts including:

  • Pippa Arlow, Global Chief Executive of global PR and content agency, Smarts

  • Mark Browne, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Executive Office

  • William Crawley, Broadcaster, Presenter and host of TEDxStormont 2019

  • Eva Grosman, Curator of TEDxStormont

The winner will then take to the red dot on 31 August joining well-known faces such as internationally renowned contemporary artist, Colin Davison, entrepreneur Deepa Mann-Kler and owner of Boden Coffee Company, Orla McKeating for an inspirational day of ideas and stories from across a vast range of backgrounds and sectors.

The participants have taken part in the ‘Talk like TED’ programme over the last 5 weeks, led by broadcaster, Sarah Travers, learning how to be confident, connect with their audience, and highlighting what makes them and their story unique in order to prepare one of them to take to the stage in front of a live audience of 200 people and a huge audience online.

This programme has been supported by The Executive Office Urban Villages Initiative and global PR and content agency, Smarts, based in Belfast, who have also offered up a mentorship at the prestigious firm as part of the winning prize.

Mark Browne, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Executive Office, with oversight of the Urban Villages Initiative, said:

“I am delighted that the Urban Villages Initiative was able to support the ‘Talk like TED’ programme and TEDxStormont. This has been an excellent opportunity for young participants from Urban Village areas to learn new skills and develop their ability to communicate more effectively.

“The aims of the Urban Villages Initiative include building community capacity and fostering positive community identities. This fantastic programme has allowed these young people to do just that, as they have worked closely with participants from different backgrounds and perspectives to share and develop their ideas.

“I congratulate these young people on their hard work - they have really come into their own. It is great to see that they have the confidence to tell their own personal story and to realise that they are unique and worth listening to. To be able to hear them express themselves on such a big platform as TEDx is really exciting and inspiring.  What great ambassadors they are for their communities!”

Pippa Arlow, Global Chief Executive at Smarts, added:

“We are thrilled to be backing TEDxStormont and the ‘Talk like TED’ programme.  Communication is such an important part of any organisation, and indeed a vital personal skill to have. This experience has challenged the finalists and tested their skills in speech making and how to communicate their story effectively. It is fantastic to be able to give the participants the opportunity to take to the TEDx stage, which only a select number of people have had.

“We are also excited to be able to give the chosen speaker the chance to join us at Smarts after TEDxStormont. As part of our mentorship programme, we want to be able to nurture this exceptional talent and hope to be able to build on what they have already learned during the sessions and want to further inspire and grow the winner into a fantastic communications professional.”

Eva Grosman, Curator of TEDxStormont commented:

“Over the past 5 weeks, we have had a fantastic time, engaging with the participants and their inspiring stories. The wealth of talent and openness shown by the participants has far exceed our imaginations and whoever wins the spot on the red dot will deliver a talk that will really resonate.

“It has been so interesting to listen to the participants views and to see what they imagine for Northern Ireland’s future, and the faith they have for a better and more hopeful time to come. This without doubt is going to be such a special part of TEDxStormont on 31 August.

“We would like to extend our thanks to the Executive Office Urban Villages Initiative and Smarts for being such fantastic partners, and helping to bring the participants together, along with the special guest appearances during the sessions. It has been an extraordinary programme.”

No Stone Unturned nominated for an Emmy Award

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The Loughinisland massacre documentary, No Stone Unturned has been nominated for an Emmy Award

The film, directed by Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney, was produced by Belfast based production company, Fine Point Films.

The film is nominated in the Outstanding Investigative Documentary category in the 40th News and Documentary Emmy Awards which celebrate the best talent in news and journalism around the world.

Producer of No Stone Unturned, Trevor Birney commented:

“We are overwhelmed with the news that No Stone Unturned has been nominated for a prestigious Emmy award. The team behind this film, both in New York and Belfast, was determined to shine a light on this very dark moment in our history.

“Alex Gibney is a master story teller and we thank him for bringing his immense skills to bear on this story.

“No one has been held accountable for the murder of six men at Loughinisland over 25-years ago. 

"The arrest of myself and journalist Barry McCaffrey by the Police Service of Northern Ireland in August, 2018 was an affront to the families who we remain indebted to for entrusting us with their story. 

"We can only hope that this recognition for the film brings further attention to their campaign for justice."

The News and Documentary Emmy awards ceremony will take place on 24th  September in New York City and will be attended by over 1,000 people from television and news media, as well as documentary producers and journalists.

Fine Point Films have also produced ‘George Best: All By Himself’, Emmy nominated film Elián, and the most successful Northern Irish film of all time, ‘Bobby Sands: 66 Days’

New Secretary of State must prioritise roles and resources of Councils in N. Ireland says NILGA

NILGA Chief Executive Derek McCallan

NILGA Chief Executive Derek McCallan

Reacting to the appointment of Julian Smith as the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, NILGA Chief Executive Derek McCallan said:

“I welcome and congratulate Julian Smith on his appointment as the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. We look forward to meeting Mr Smith in due course and we extend to the Secretary of State an invitation to our annual conference on 20 February 2020. We are eager to discuss with him how we can ensure the best delivery of public services via local government in Northern Ireland.

“Mr Smith’s appointment comes at an uncertain time for Northern Ireland and NILGA is keen to make sure that he prioritises devolving greater powers and resources to local councils to address the democratic deficit which currently exists in Northern Ireland. Improving Northern Ireland can be in large part delivered through making councils stronger and more sustainable, as the review of Public Administration declared years ago. We are part way there but we need new impetus. 

“Local councils are working and eager to increase their role with the Assembly stuck in stalemate. But the strain is greater than ever. Local government needs greater finances, powers and resources to best meet the demand from citizens – and from wider government – as well as fulfil their vital functions efficiently under fiscal strain. It is vital therefore that Mr Smith immediately recognises the potential of local government as a driver for local communities and economies and tackles unfinished business, like legislative delays, straight away.

“I’m sure that Mr Smith is aware that local councils have been the only functioning level of government here for the past two and a half years. We are keen to remind him of his predecessor’s commitment to devolve greater powers to local government in the continued absence of Stormont.

“NILGA wants to see a working and sustainable Assembly up and running as soon as possible, but until that happens, local councils need to be given greater resources to get things done. During the continued political impasse, councils are delivering more with less, taking on the likes of major infrastructure work as well as substantial, community led, preventative health work.

“Local government is taking on more and more responsibility for local communities. At the top of Mr Smith’s to-do list needs to be ensuring local government’s potential to address economic, social and legislative challenges is unlocked quickly. The solution is under our noses. It really is time to waken up and deliver for people’s needs here, through local government”.

Londonderry Chamber of Commerce statement on new Secretary of State for NI 

Brian McGrath, President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce

Brian McGrath, President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce

Reacting to the appointment of Julian Smith MP as the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Londonderry Chamber of Commerce President Brian McGrath has said:

“We congratulate Julian Smith on his appointment as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and hope to see immediate, committed engagement to deal with the looming spectre of a no deal Brexit.”

“The Chamber’s concerns around Brexit are well-documented. Being a border region, the effects of Brexit will be very acutely felt here so it is imperative that our voice is heard in Westminster and a deal is struck with the EU to guarantee an orderly exit. A no deal Brexit would be catastrophic.”

“The Chamber and other regional stakeholders in the North West are willing to work with the new NI Secretary to play their part in ensuring as smooth a transition as possible, as we move towards exiting the EU on 31st October.” 

Trade NI reacts to news of new NI Secretary of State

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“We welcome the appointment of Julian Smith as the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and expect to meet with him in the coming weeks.”

“Our three organisations represent most of the businesses that make up private sector jobs in Northern Ireland and the Secretary of State needs to listen to us and do what they can in the current limbo situation to implement policies and make legislative changes that will help grow Northern Ireland.”

‘With much-needed decisions not being made on reform of business rates and infrastructure investment, not addressing an ever-growing skills gap and modernisation of our town centres, Northern Ireland is not just lagging behind the rest of the UK and Ireland, it is in real danger of being left behind. We need work to be done to increase the productivity of the NI workforce, reduce the regulatory burden on businesses, and deliver a clear economic strategy for Northern Ireland.”

“We want a reboot of the economic policy of Northern Ireland, in order to benefit our economy and safeguard our business community.”

“We will be inviting the new Secretary of State and his colleagues to take part in our major ‘Northern Ireland’ day in Westminster on 11 September to directly engage with hundreds of business leaders from here who are expected to travel to London.”

 

Hospitality Ulster reacts to appointment of new NI Secretary of State, Julian Smith MP

Colin Neill, Chief Executive, Hospitality Ulster

Colin Neill, Chief Executive, Hospitality Ulster

“We welcome the appointment of Julian Smith as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and wish him well in the role. We will be seeking a meeting with him at the earliest opportunity to impress upon him the importance of the £1.2billion per annum hospitality sector in Northern Ireland and its central role in the economy here. He needs to understand right from the start that we must not leave the EU without a deal; the restoration of the Assembly and Executive is paramount; and reform of the outdated property based UK rating system is needed as it is now broken and crippling our members businesses.”

Allstate teams up with National Cyber Security Centre to encourage young women to pursue careers in cybersecurity

(Second from left):  John Healy, vice president and managing director, Allstate Northern Ireland with the participants of the CyberFirst Girls Defenders course hosted at Allstate’s Belfast offices. The CyberFirst Girls Defenders course is a key part of the U.K. government’s National Cyber Security Programme. Fifty girls aged 13-14 attended the programme.

(Second from left): John Healy, vice president and managing director, Allstate Northern Ireland with the participants of the CyberFirst Girls Defenders course hosted at Allstate’s Belfast offices. The CyberFirst Girls Defenders course is a key part of the U.K. government’s National Cyber Security Programme. Fifty girls aged 13-14 attended the programme.

Allstate Northern Ireland has teamed up with the National Cyber Security Centre to provide a week-long programme aimed at encouraging more young women to pursue careers in the booming cybersecurity industry.

The CyberFirst Girls Defenders course is a key part of the U.K. government’s National Cyber Security Programme and provides a broad range of activities designed to give young people the support, skills and experiences they need to pursue a career in cybersecurity. Fifty girls aged 13-14 recently attended the programme, hosted at Allstate’s Belfast offices.

The girls spent the week receiving valuable introductions to the tools, knowledge and skills required to build and protect small networks and personal devices, all while residing at Queen’s University Belfast.

John Healy, vice president and managing director, Allstate Northern Ireland said:

“At Allstate, we are committed to inspiring the next generation of cyber professionals and promoting gender diversity.”

“It’s an exciting time for the tech sector in Northern Ireland, specifically for cybersecurity. This is a real growth industry with the potential to boost the Northern Ireland economy, and we want to encourage women and girls to be a part of it.”

The tech sector in Northern Ireland has experienced rapid growth recently, with a report finding that turnover from digital tech companies has reached £1.3bn. A significant and vital part of this growing industry is in the area of cybersecurity.

The U.K. is a world leader in cybersecurity, and many industry firms are headquartered in Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland, the cybersecurity industry is on course to generate combined salaries of over £70m each year and employ almost 1,700 people.

Despite the growth in the sector and the opportunities this growth presents, women’s representation in the sector remains low. The U.K. government has created the CyberFirst Girls Defenders course as a way to encourage greater participation among young women.

Comment from Nigel Birney, Head of Trade Credit NI, Willis Towers Watson on latest PMI figures

Nigel Birney, Head of Trade Credit and Political Risk, Willis Towers Watson

Nigel Birney, Head of Trade Credit and Political Risk, Willis Towers Watson

Reacting to today’s PMI figures from Ulster Bank, Nigel Birney, Head of Trade Credit and Political Risk, Willis Towers Watson, has said that businesses should take heed of the warning signs and make sure they are protected:

“This morning’s latest PMI figures for June are extremely concerning. They confirm what we’ve known for some time – that the Northern Ireland economy is in a worrying downturn. The new figures show that exports are down, new orders are down, and manufacturing output is falling at its fastest rate since the recession over a decade ago and Credit Insurance pay-outs are at their highest level since 2009.”

“Brexit uncertainty is, without doubt, a factor but it is clear that the private sector overall is in a weak and perilous state. This survey has shown key industries like manufacturing, retail and construction are experiencing a pronounced slump. This evidence-based report reveals the economic cycle here has now turned after six years of growth.”

“The likelihood is that we’ll now start to see instances of bad debt creeping up as Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) increase across the economy’s key sectors, which puts enormous strain on a company’s cash flow. Business owners need to be confident that their supply chains, suppliers and debtors, are all as risk free as they can be. Now is the time for businesses here to be proactive and take action to protect themselves from harm. Supply chains are always at risk of bad debt and a weak local economy puts businesses and business owners at risk of failure.”

“We advise that small businesses in Northern Ireland either put in place contingency plans or review their existing plans to incorporate Credit Insurance as soon as possible. Having Credit Insurance in place can act as a barrier against business failure and help protect your business from the catastrophic effect of bad debt and supply chain disruption.

“Over 80% of businesses in Northern Ireland fall into the SME bracket. They are extremely prone and exposed to insolvencies and bad debt. Industries like construction are at particular risk and the future of the local sector does not appear optimistic. It is crucial, then, that the businesses that make up the backbone of our local economy insulate themselves from economic volatility and decline.”