New executive recruitment agency challenges old models

CO3 Chief Executive Nora Smith and Engage Executive Talent Director, Patrick Minne.

CO3 Chief Executive Nora Smith and Engage Executive Talent Director, Patrick Minne.

CO3 – Chief Officers 3rd Sector – has formally launched its bespoke executive and board-level recruitment service under a new brand.

Engage Executive Talent is a social enterprise that offers a holistic, full-service recruitment package to organisations in the public, private and third sectors.

Led by CO3 Chief Executive Nora Smith and newly appointed Director Patrick Minne, Engage Executive Talent recruits highly talented people at Chief Executive, Board and Senior Management level on both a permanent and interim basis.

The recruitment service has evolved under the direction of Nora at CO3 since 2014. Initially addressing executive recruitment needs in the third sector, it now meets a growing need in the private and public sectors that goes further than simply appointing new leaders.

The recruitment team works with clients to secure talented individuals and continue that work after appointment to support the appointee in their new role and offer a suite of development opportunities and ongoing peer to peer support.

The launch of the service under its new dedicated brand, Engage Executive Talent demonstrates a statement of intent from the agency, growing to meet an increasing demand for a highly specialist recruitment service that does more.

Engage Executive Talent Director Patrick Minne said:

“I am thrilled that we have formally launched our new recruitment service, Engage Executive Talent.

“This is a service whose design incorporates thirty years of CO3’s experience in the service of third sector leaders, encompassing permanent and interim executive and board appointments for a wide range of organisations and, crucially, that includes ongoing support after appointment.

“The demand for the service has led us to this point where we are formally launching a highly specialised recruitment consultancy aimed at matching experienced and talented individuals who have the right values and motivation, with organisations and boards that require their expertise and ability.

“Our CO3 heritage means that we’re driven by our ethics, but we compete on service quality.”

Engage Pic 3.JPG

The new and innovative approach to recruitment is something that has been shaped over several years by CO3 Chief Executive Nora Smith, who said:

“A recent survey we carried out with CEOs and Directors found that more than 61% do not have plans in place about what to do when someone senior leaves the organisation. I found this surprisingly high.

“We know from working with Chief Executives and Directors over the years that succession can be challenging, so Engage will support them in deciding the best way forward. Filling a permanent role may be the answer, but the interim service is also an effective tool to help stabilise organisations in transition and smooth the road for a permanent successor.

“We not only provide a first-class appointments service, but provide support after the appointment to ensure the new postholder maximises impact in their new role.”

The recruitment agency team and new brand will be unveiled at a launch in The Merchant Hotel on Friday 27 September.

New report highlights shocking shortfall of 320 pharmacists, as Community Pharmacy network faces critical period

Gerard Greene, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy NI

Gerard Greene, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy NI

Hundreds of community pharmacists report fears that the service will become unsafe if immediate workforce and funding pressures are not addressed.

A survey of community pharmacists in Northern Ireland has identified a huge shortfall in their numbers and real concerns about the ability to maintain safe services for patients.

Serious underfunding and a lack of workforce planning by the Department of Health has directly impacted on the sector and is now threatening the safe delivery of crucial frontline services for patients, the representative body has said.

In the largest survey undertaken by Community Pharmacy NI (the professional membership body for all community pharmacies) in May and June this year, responses were received from over 77% of community pharmacies in Northern Ireland – representing 409 pharmacies out of a total of 532.

The survey results highlight that:

  • It is estimated that almost 400 pharmacists have left the network in the past two years

  • The NI community pharmacy network is now operating with an estimated deficit of 320 pharmacists

  • 94% of contractors report difficulties sourcing locums

  • 44% of pharmacists who left in the last two years have left to work in GP practices

The survey further highlighted that:

  • 83% of community pharmacies have lost pharmacists

  • 70% of contractors have been unable to fill advertised workforce roles

  • 90% of contractors are either very or extremely worried about their future workforce

The Department has, just this week, announced an investment of £26.76 million in Northern Ireland’s GP services for 2019/20. Community pharmacists are shocked that £2.19 million will be made available this year to continue the roll-out of the Practice Based Pharmacist scheme. This will exacerbate the community pharmacy workforce crisis.

In response to the news, Gerard Greene, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy NI said:

“The findings in the CPNI workforce report are damning but what I find even more worrying is the Department’s willingness to continue the roll-out of the Practice Based Pharmacist scheme when we have asked that it should be deferred until the community pharmacy workforce crisis is resolved. Obviously, any new money for the health service is good news and nearly £27 million is a significant investment, but the Department must urgently make the same investment in community pharmacy to stabilise the sector and to ensure that safe services can continue to be provided for patients.

Mr Greene continued:

“We have been calling on the Department for a number of years to rectify critical funding issues in our network and this latest view of our workforce shows that if the Department continues to bury its head in the sand, then the service will simply become unsafe.

“Issues with chronic underfunding and pharmacists not getting fully reimbursed for the medicines they are dispensing have culminated in the most severe and critical period ever faced by our sector. This has been compounded by an investment from the Department of over £13 million into the Practice Based Pharmacist scheme resulting in the movement of over 175 pharmacists from community pharmacy into GP practices. The public will now start to see the devastating impact this will have on the service that they have come to rely on from their local pharmacy.

“Community pharmacists are a crucial frontline service, helping 123,000 people in Northern Ireland every day. If we undermine the ability of the network to carry out this service, then we are removing access to healthcare for thousands of people and diverting them towards already over-burdened GP practices and hospitals.”

James McCaughan, Vice-Chairman of CPNI called on the Department to act immediately, saying:

“We understand there is pressure right across the health and social care sector, however community pharmacy is essential in reducing the need for unnecessary visits to GP practices, out-of-hours services and hospitals.

“We know that the Department is reviewing our workforce and is aware of the pressures that are mounting. It is time the Department acted to reverse the huge damage that is being done to the network.

“If we don’t invest properly in community-based services, then we are not going to achieve the transformation in healthcare that is now essential. Community pharmacy should feature heavily in the transformation of health and social care that we are told is urgently needed in Northern Ireland for our health service to be sustainable.

“Community Pharmacists are ready and willing to throw our weight behind the transformation, but to do so we require proper funding and resources.

The Department of Health is in the process of carrying out its own workforce review of the entire pharmacy profession in Northern Ireland and initial findings indicate that the situation is significantly worse in the community pharmacy sector compared to Trust and GP sectors.


Search begins to find the Top 100 Hospitality Businesses

Launching the Top 100 Hospitality Businesses Awards in Northern Ireland for 2020 on HMS Caroline:  Colin Neill, Chief Executive Hospitality Ulster, Joris Minne, Food Critic and Chair of the Top 100 judging panel, Mark Stewart, Hospitality Ulster Chairman.

Launching the Top 100 Hospitality Businesses Awards in Northern Ireland for 2020 on HMS Caroline: Colin Neill, Chief Executive Hospitality Ulster, Joris Minne, Food Critic and Chair of the Top 100 judging panel, Mark Stewart, Hospitality Ulster Chairman.

The search to find the Top 100 Hospitality Businesses in Northern Ireland for 2020 has been launched.

Now in its third year, Hospitality Ulster has again launched the Top 100 Hospitality Businesses Awards, and anyone can nominate their favourite venue.

With a focus on food, beverage and consumer experience, these are the only industry recognised awards that celebrate all that is great about our pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels, shining a spotlight on the best of the hospitality industry in Northern Ireland.

The awards, launched last night on board HMS Caroline recognise the businesses, who through their premises, staff and product offer, embody the very essence of the unique hospitality industry, committed to going the extra mile to deliver an authentic customer experience that matches both their target market and customer demographic.

Nominating could not be simpler and what’s more, anyone can nominate. All premises nominated go through to the judging process, regardless of the number of nominations received. Simply visit to make your nomination.

Judging will take place under the stewardship of food critic, Joris Minne, with the judging the panel including the Irish News reporter and food columnist, Allison Morris, Ulster Business editor, John Mulgrew, Sunday Life Pub Spy columnist, Edwin McFee and the highly regarded celebrity chef, Paula McIntyre MBE.

The 2020 Top 100 Hospitality Businesses Awards will be announced at a gala event in the Crowne Plaza, Belfast in February 2020. 

The Awards are supported by partners, Bacardi Brown-Forman, Budweiser Brewing Group UK and Ireland, Coca-Cola, Counterpoint, Diageo, Dillon Bass, Heineken, Henderson Foodservice, Molson Coors, Richmond Marketing, Tennent’s NI and United Wine Merchants Ltd and media partners, Hospitality Review NI, Sunday Life, U105 and BT Sport.

Mark Stewart, Chairman of Hospitality Ulster commenting on the launch event:

“We are thrilled to launch the Top 100 Hospitality Businesses Awards for the third consecutive year ahead of a star-studded celebration in February 2020. Our industry is brimming with superb businesses and we are committed to recognising the fantastic venues which together make up our unique hospitality offering.”

“We are thankful to the panel of industry experts who meticulously work their way through the nominated venues with such ease and our fantastic partners and sponsors who make an event of this scale possible.”

Foyle Port turnover hits new levels despite Brexit challenges


Foyle Port

Foyle Port

Foyle Port has announced a new record turnover of £10million, with an operating profit of £1.9million for the 2018/2019 financial year.

Now in its seventh year of consecutive growth, Foyle Port reinvests all its profits to continually improve the business and upgrade facilities.

Recent financial success has allowed the Port to undertake ambitious capital investment in assets and infrastructure to the tune of £3.5million, which includes the purchase of a new harbour crane and expansion of the Port’s landbank to 155 acres.

2019 represents the 165th Anniversary of Foyle Port which was established in 1854 as an independent statutory corporation. The average number of employees is now around 107 which is a year on year increase representing payroll costs for the organisation of £4million per year.

Over and above the Port’s core activity, it has witnessed growth in its diversification programme such as the Port’s civil and structural engineering division, Foyle Consulting Engineers, who have continued to build on their work within the construction sector and environmental consulting services for clients across the UK and Ireland.

Foyle Port Chair, Bonnie Anley, commented:

“This is a milestone anniversary year for the Port and we are thrilled to see our turnover and operating profit grow once again.”

“Over the last year in particular, there has been ever increasing anxiety about Brexit and its impacts. Potential change and uncertainty, both locally and nationally has had to be managed.”

Bonnie Anley, Chair of Foyle Port

Bonnie Anley, Chair of Foyle Port

“We’ve risen to that challenge and are ready for the outcome of Brexit in terms of a ‘deal’ or a ‘no deal’ scenario. As a commercial entity we have shown that we can be flexible and adapt to the new realities of the business environment. We continue to invest and innovate so that we are ready to grasp all new opportunities arising in the future.”

Foyle Port Chief Executive, Brian McGrath commented:

“The successful performance of Foyle Port this year is due to the dedication and collective focus of our entire work force and the support of our customers.”

Brian McGrath, Chief Executive of Foyle Port

Brian McGrath, Chief Executive of Foyle Port

“We are delivering on our ambitious strategy at a time of considerable uncertainty. The ongoing Brexit debate and devolved political uncertainties continue to be part of our strategic thinking in the short to medium term as we enter a new era in the aftermath of a divisive Brexit experience.”

“We have a strong balance sheet and are primed for future investment. We are one year ahead of delivery in terms of our strategic plan, which will give us much need time before setting the direction of travel for 2020 and the outcomes of Brexit.”

Respect Human Rights Film Festival launches 2019 programme

Seán Murray, Festival Director

Seán Murray, Festival Director

The Respect Human Rights Film Festival has launched its third programme, with an impressive line-up of moving and thought-provoking films and documentaries.

The festival, now in its third year, will run from 4-7 October and will highlight a range of films covering topical issues such as immigration, healthcare, homelessness, asylum seekers, LGBTQ+ rights, workers’ rights and environmental concerns.

The highly regarded festival will welcome a record number of patrons and filmmakers from across the world to screenings in An Cultúrlann, the James Connolly Visitor Centre and Studio 34 in Belfast.

As well as a number of feature length films and documentaries, several short-films and panel discussions will explore the wider cultural, human and socio-political implications of conflict.

The festival will open with the hard-hitting documentary, “A Dignified Death” which poses questions on assisted suicide and illustrates the emotional strain on family and friends throughout this journey. A Q&A with its Dutch Director, Jesse van Venrooij will follow.

All screenings are non-ticket events, except for the opening and closing galas where tickets can be acquired on

Stephen Rea, Festival Patron said:

“As patron of the Respect Belfast Human Rights Film Festival, I’m honoured to be involved in this grass roots festival that is going from strength to strength, demonstrating the increasing demand for films that raise important human rights issues both locally and internationally. It is of increasing importance that festivals like this empower, educate and advocate for those without a voice.

“In a period of political uncertainty, it is important that we double down on our efforts to advocate for those that are marginalised within society. Respect Human Rights Film Festival is one such outlet that opens the door for reasoned debate and discussion around many difficult subjects.”

Seán Murray, Director of Respect Human Rights Film Festival said:

“We are thrilled to launch the Respect Human Rights Film Festival for a third year with a range of films that tackle major human rights issues.”

“Across Ireland we have witnessed a dramatic increase in homelessness in our towns and cities and so it is timely that a major theme of this year’s festival once again addresses the homeless crisis.”

“As filmmakers in a post-conflict society we face many obstacles, however the increase in production of local films sees a welcome focus on issues that can be seen as difficult to talk about.”

“As such, we have curated a programme which encourages debate on many issues, and which also demonstrates a real local passion for film and promotes human rights issues across society”.

“Without our volunteers and partners, this festival would not be possible. We are thankful to them and to all those filmmakers who will travel to Belfast for the festival.”

Top 4 picks from Respect Human Rights Festival

4 October Opening Night – A Dignified Death

Directed by Jesse van Venrooij, in this documentary Eelco choses death by legal euthanasia. A film about his mission, breaking the taboos of assisted suicide, while also illustrating the emotional strain on family and friends as they prepare for his final journey.

5 October – Bosnia Herzegovina: The Cold Peace

In November 1995, the Dayton Agreement stopped the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but it did not build a real peace. A quarter century after the end of the 1992-1995 conflict, a filmmaker, a cooperator and a writer went looking for conflict’s witnesses, the same people who, after the signature of the peace agreement of 1995, rolled up their sleeves in order to rebuild a country, but instead of it, the country became prisoner of nationalism, corruption, poverty and hatred, in a society put to the test by grief and neglect.

6 October – Are you Proud?

The LGBTQ+ movement in the UK has fought bruising battles for equality. Directed by Ashley Joiner, Are You Proud? brings together rare archive footage and interviews from across a spectrum of historical campaigns to celebrate the movement’s landmark achievements.

6 October Closing Gala – Eminent Monsters

Directed by Scotland’s Stephen Bennett, this film traces the roots of the western governments love of torture. This includes extraordinary firsthand testimony and Q&A from the Hooded Men.

The film festival is supported by the QFT, Film Hub NI, Fáilte Feirste Thiar, Belfast Film Festival and Féile an Phobail.

Opinion Editorial: Now is the time to stimulate hospitality sector to boost Northern Ireland economy - Colin Neill, Hospitality Ulster

Colin Neill, Chief Executive Hospitality Ulster

Colin Neill, Chief Executive Hospitality Ulster

To find opportunity in crisis is sometimes the only way things can get done. The fine detail in which our media is documenting the speed at which we are expecting to crash out of the European Union is frightening. The lack of an Assembly and Executive and the paralysis at Westminster really does leave us truly exposed.

The current state of the local economy and the bleak outlook for any level of respectable growth means that we could find ourselves regressing to the unhappy place we were several years ago.

Like all businesses here, we in the hospitality sector find ourselves at a pinch point. Rising costs, exorbitant rates, VAT, Air Passenger Duty,  increasing workforce pressures, skills needs, and outdated legislation all add to the washing machine of issues that our members currently have to deal with or suffer from a lack of movement on.

We only have to look at the Budget laid out by the previous Chancellor of the Exchequer last year on the business rate subsidies given to the rest of Great Britain, but not specifically to Northern Ireland. Instead our share of the monies ended up in the big black hole of our NI Government budget and becomes largely ineffective against its intended target.  

What the Irish government did for the hospitality sector in the south during the previous financial crash, is a good example of how opportunity was grasped at a time of national crisis. It recognised that the hospitality sector was an integral part to their tourism economy and global reputation and decided that it was too important to suffer the consequences of people not visiting Ireland or not going out for a pint and a bite to eat. They brought forward ideas and economic stimulus by lowering hospitality VAT to 9% at that time. This had a huge beneficial impact and assisted growth and job creation and has helped the sector and their economy come out the other side in prime position. With hospitality VAT at 20% in the north, we are at a competitive disadvantage on this issue alone and unfortunately have been for some time.

The Government urgently needs to look at our hospitality sector as a prime economic asset and wealth generator that can help boost the whole NI economy. Last week alongside our Trade NI alliance partners, Manufacturing NI and Retail NI, we launched a 10-year prosperity plan at Westminster with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Julian Smith.

This was our way of coming up with a plan, policies and solutions to develop a prosperous society and vibrant communities. But that can only happen if we reduce the cost of doing business, increase our productivity and find innovative ways of stimulating investment.

The hospitality sector is critical to the health of the local economy. As a £1.6 billion contributor, it has expansive potential. Now is the time in the face of what can only be described as impending doom that we call loudly on our elected representatives and decision makers to put in place economic levers like reduced hospitality VAT, abolishing APD and reducing business rates to help us fulfil that ambition.

Derry Chamber hosts Business Rates Review Workshop

Sue Gray, Permanent Secretary for the Department of Finance, Brian McGrath, President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, and Carol Kelly, Business Operations Manager, Londonderry Chamber of Commerce

Sue Gray, Permanent Secretary for the Department of Finance, Brian McGrath, President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, and Carol Kelly, Business Operations Manager, Londonderry Chamber of Commerce

The Londonderry Chamber of Commerce today hosted a Business Rates Workshop with Permanent Secretary Sue Gray, in the City Hotel, Derry.

The event was held in partnership with the Department of Finance, which has recently launched a consultation on a comprehensive review of business rates in Northern Ireland. The review will look at whether the current system for rates is fair and effective and make recommendations for improvement.

The workshop brought together business leaders in the North West with officials from the Department of Finance who are consulting with a wide range of businesses, industry groups and sector leaders right across Northern Ireland. 

Permanent Secretary for the Department of Finance, Sue Gray addressed businesses at the workshop saying:

“Since May, when I announced this widespread review of business rates, my Department has been consulting with a range of stakeholders right across all areas of our economy. This is to help ensure we have taken on board as many different perspectives as possible and ensure an effective consultation process takes place.

“I’m really grateful to the Chamber for hosting the event today which demonstrates our commitment to listening to the views of businesses right across Northern Ireland.

“It’s important that we can respond to changes in the economic landscape to ensure the rating system and its suite of reliefs and other measures support a vibrant and growing economy.”  

During the meeting, the President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce made representations of behalf of the business community across the North West and said that consultation with business groups is crucial to ensuring a review of rates that is meaningful and effective.

President of the Chamber, Brian McGrath said:

“We were pleased to be able to bring together business leaders in the North West and departmental officials to discuss how a rates review can help bring about positive economic change for businesses operating here.

“Our members are working in very uncertain times and any initiative that aims to help them address the burden that business rates can present, is something that is to be welcomed and encouraged.

“We cannot allow rates to be a deterrent for people starting up or growing their businesses and it’s important that the rating system works for everyone, both in terms of contributing towards our public services, but also allowing businesses to flourish and create prosperity for our region.

“We would encourage all of our members to take the time to respond to this important consultation.”

Local government calls for greater powers in meeting with Northern Ireland Minister

(L-R) NILGA Vice President Ald Alan McDowell, NILGA Head of Policy & Governance Karen Smyth, NILGA Vice President Ald Danny Kinahan, NILGA President Cllr Frances Burton, Minister of State for Northern Ireland Rt Hon Nick Hurd MP and NILGA Vice President Cllr Matt Garrett

(L-R) NILGA Vice President Ald Alan McDowell, NILGA Head of Policy & Governance Karen Smyth, NILGA Vice President Ald Danny Kinahan, NILGA President Cllr Frances Burton, Minister of State for Northern Ireland Rt Hon Nick Hurd MP and NILGA Vice President Cllr Matt Garrett

Commenting following a meeting with Minister of State for Northern Ireland Rt Hon Nick Hurd MP, Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA) President Cllr Frances Burton said:

“This meeting has come at a crucial time for local government in Northern Ireland. We need clarity from central government over Brexit and we need immediate financial and administrative support to ensure high-quality service provision. In the continued absence of an Executive at Stormont, local councils here have been the only form of fully functioning and politically directed government here for nearly three years.

“While councils should be commended for continuing to provide first-class public services under extreme pressure, they urgently need greater finances, resources and powers to ease the strain and best meet the demands of local people. NILGA is a willing partner and is ready to work with Mr Hurd and the Northern Ireland Office in the continued absence of Stormont to ensure we can make Northern Ireland more accountable, sustainable and well-governed.”

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



Hospitality Ulster reacts to the launch of public consultation on business rates

Colin Neill, CEO Hospitality Ulster

Colin Neill, CEO Hospitality Ulster

Reacting to the news that the Department of Finance has launched a public consultation on business rates in Northern Ireland, Colin Neill, Chief Executive, Hospitality Ulster said today:

“The launch of this business rates consultation has been long anticipated and we welcome the fact it is now open for responses.”  

“Hospitality Ulster has been resolute in its demands that business rates for the sector needs to change and has lobbied consistently for that to happen for the past numbers of years. The way business rates are calculated for the hospitality sector are completely out of kilter with other businesses and are a significant financial burden on top of ever increasing costs that are squeezing margins and threatening to put many out of business.”

“This consultation is the next step in the roadmap for radical change to an antiquated and not fit for purpose system which is a major burden for our members.” 

“At the last UK Budget, the Chancellor gave hospitality businesses among others a third off their rate bills in England, however this didn’t apply to Northern Ireland. We continue to pay the highest business rates in the UK and are getting very little in terms of support. We want nothing less than real and meaningful change for our members here.”

“In this consultation we will be outlining significant changes to Rates, including our proposals for a targeted approach to small business rates relief, a revamp of the Rates Hardship fund, green rates rebate for businesses who invest in carbon neutral technology and greater relief for new start businesses.”

“The outcomes and recommendations of this consultation need to clearly show that if we are serious about our economy then the hospitality sector needs significantly lower business rates to allow it to thrive in challenging economic times.”