27 March 2015

  |  CBI Northern Ireland


CBI welcomes Taoiseach to 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner

Speaking at the business organisation’s 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner (Thursday) at the Ramada Hotel, Shaw’s Bridge, Belfast, CBI Northern Ireland Chair, Colin Walsh said it was an honour to welcome An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD as one of the two keynote speakers for the evening. 

CBI welcomes Taoiseach to 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner

As the first of the CBI’s regions to celebrate its 50th Anniversary with its Gala Dinner we were also delighted to welcome John Cridland CBE, the CBI’s Director-General who gave the second keynote address. Strategic Partner was Barclays.

In his remarks to over 520 guests, the CBI Northern Ireland Chair, Colin Walsh said:

The business community stands united behind a single message to our politicians – move on and resolve your differences. The goodwill and renewed positive working relationships that emerged from the Stormont House Agreement must be restored and once again become the hallmark of our Executive. When it comes to maximising the potential that lower Corporation Tax rates will bring, political stability stands highest on every potential investor’s check list.”

“It is only by working together that we can attract the investment Northern Ireland needs, align our education and skills system with economic needs, enhance the competitiveness of our infrastructure, deliver the truly unambiguous shared future that all of us in this room wish to see, and provide the opportunities for our young people – stemming their loss from these shores, and attracting back the talent we have lost. These objectives must triumph over party political interest – that is the appeal that I make to our political leaders this evening.”  

“Personally, I now want to move on. I want to live in a post post-conflict society, one that builds the private sector so that we can have less people on welfare, not more.

A society with the vision, the ambition and the confidence to transform our economy.”  

The CBI Chair also delivered a clear and unequivocal message to the business leaders in the room and beyond. He said:

We must build on the CBI’s Great Business Debate theme and do more to explain the positive value and contribution of business to society. The onus is on the business community to show what we will do as a result of a lower Corporation tax rate. We must explain in layman’s terms the job opportunities, the economic potential, the direct contribution to household budgets and the chance to deliver prosperity across the Province with rising living standards for all.”

Responding to the address given by Enda Kenny, Taoiseach of Ireland, John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said:

We agree that the best way to make the most of the opportunities on the table to drive growth, create jobs and increase prosperity across this island is for Ireland and the United Kingdom to work together more closely.

“The EU is by no means perfect and does need reform, but the Single Market underpins trade for both small and big businesses in the UK, Ireland and across Europe.

“We need Europe to turbo-charge its Single Market in services and digital, and sign more trade deals like the TTIP, but pull back from other areas of regulation where decisions are better made at national level.

“It is the clear view of most businesses across these islands that our economic future is best served by our continued membership of a reformed EU.”

The CBI Northern Ireland 50th Anniversary Gala Annual Dinner was held at the Ramada Hotel with over 520 guests, and its headline sponsor was Barclays. The dinner was further supported by our corporate partner, BDO, and our networking partner Beyond Business Travel.


Notes to Editors

A full copy of Colin Walsh’s speech is available on request

Pictured at the CBI Annual Dinner on 26 March are Adrian Doran, Head of Corporate Banking, Barclays Northern Ireland; Colin Walsh, BCI Chair; An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD; Director-General of the CBI John Cridland CBE,  and Sean Lavery, Tax Partner BDO


About Our Sponsors

  • Headline Sponsor – Barclays in Northern Ireland: Barclays provides a full range of banking services to customers in Northern Ireland – from small start-ups to the largest PLCs and public sector bodies.  Barclays also offers a market leading wealth management and private banking service, as well as personal banking services from nine branches across Northern Ireland.  
  • Corporate Partner - BDO NI
  • Networking Partners – Beyond Business Travel

About Our Speakers:

  • CBI Across the UK, the CBI speaks on behalf of 190,000 businesses of all sizes and sectors which together employ nearly 7 million people, about one third of the private sector-employed workforce. With offices in the UK as well as representation in Brussels, Washington, Beijing and Delhi, the CBI communicates the British business voice around the world. The CBI in Northern Ireland represents around 1/3 of the private sector workforce, and more than 60% of the largest employers in Northern Ireland. It is the leading business organisation influencing the policies of the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly.
  • Guest Speaker An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD biography: Enda Kenny was elected Taoiseach on March 9, 2011 as leader of Fine Gael – the party ‘of the progressive centre, focussing on the rights and responsibilities of all citizens.’ He Has a long track record in politics - being first elected to the Dáil in a by-election in the Mayo constituency in 1975 following the death of his father, having been a member of Mayo County Council – and a former primary school teacher. His political priority at that stage was "The greatest good for the greatest number." He previously served as a Cabinet Minister (Tourism and Trade 1994-97 where he set about transforming the Irish tourism industry) and Minister of State (Education and Labour 1986-87). He became Fine Gael Leader in 2002. He also headed the EU Council of Trade Ministers during Ireland's Presidency of the Union, and has been actively engaged in fostering international trade.
  • Guest Speaker John Cridland CBE: As Director-General of the CBI, John Cridland is the key spokesman for the business community in the media, on public platforms and with the government. He leads the CBI – the voice of business - in the UK and represents it internationally. John is a Board member of Business in the Community and a UK Commissioner for Employment and Skills. He was Vice Chair of the National Learning and Skills Council between 2007-2010. He spent 10 years on the Low Pay Commission and the ACAS Council, and was also a member of the Council of Cranfield University and the Commission on Environmental Markets and Economic Performance. John was educated at Boston Grammar School and has an MA in History from Christ’s College Cambridge.  He joined the CBI as a policy adviser in 1982.  John was Deputy Director-General from 2000 to 2010.


All Media Enquiries

Anthea Savage, Communications & Events Executive, CBI Northern Ireland. DL: 028 9010 1117; E: anthea.savage@cbi.org.uk 

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