Over half of Northern Ireland business leaders lack Brexit plan: Ulster Society’s Annual Dinner FULL GALLERY

The Chairman of Chartered Accountants Ulster Society has warned that Northern Ireland will be the in the ‘eye of the storm’ if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 29th March.

Barry Smyth, MCS Group; Zara Duffy, Head of Chartered Accountants N. Ireland, Dr Janet Gray MBE, Guest Speaker; Niall Harkin, Chairman, Chartered Accountants Ulster Society and Rory Clarke, Danske Bank.
Speaking to 350 guests at the Ulster Society’s Annual Dinner, sponsored by MCS Group and Danske Bank, tonight (7th March), Niall Harkin said: “It is difficult to believe that with just 22 days to go, we are still without an agreement which means facing a hard Brexit and a hard border on the island of Ireland.

“Our members feel that if the UK crashes out without a deal, Northern Ireland will be in the eye of the storm. In the Brexit debate it seems that too little thought has been given to what business and industry need if we are to create jobs, grow our economy and ensure the future prosperity for all in Northern Ireland.”

Niall Harkin discussed some of the findings of the latest Chartered Accountants Ireland Brexit survey of over 300 business leaders in Northern Ireland. The key findings were:

  • Over half of local Chartered Accountants said that their business had ‘very little’ or ‘no plans’ in place for Brexit. Only 11% said that they are ready for Brexit.
  • 60% of feel that Brexit will have a negative impact for their business. Only 8% feel it will have any sort of positive effect for their business or organisation.
  • Almost 70% of Chartered Accountants do not feel a Brexit deal will be agreed by 29th March.

Mr Harkin said: “There is still significant uncertainty and a lack of clarity about what Brexit will mean for Northern Ireland business.

“The biggest concerns which our members have are around customs administration, customs duties and supply chain distribution. I believe that those concerns should not be ignored.

“Brexit was, and is, too big an issue not to have strong input from a local, devolved Government. It is now over two years since we had a functioning Executive and Assembly.

“As it stands today Northern Ireland has no Programme for Government, we have no plan for Brexit and we have no shared vision for Northern Ireland. Every day of delay is a further step backwards.

“We want the institutions restored, built on trust and a shared vision for the future. We need our politicians to compromise and to work on the many things where they can find common ground such as our health service, education, the economy, inward investment and an investment programme in our ailing infrastructure.

“There are a lot of reasons why Northern Ireland is a great place to work and to live. We have often spoken about the remarkable resilience that Northern Ireland has shown over the years. Wouldn’t it be great if we moved past needing to be resilient and into an era where we really flourished – where we didn’t just have to get by, but we truly thrived?”

Mr Harkin also called for business and wider society not to turn away from politics: “It’s not all down to the politicians. We all have a role to play. We still believe in the potential that peace created and we cannot afford to turn away. I’m asking that each of us use whatever influence we have to get our political institutions working again. Northern Ireland business has a lot to offer and with the right support we could achieve so much more.”

Also addressing guests at the Ulster Society Annual Dinner was Dr Janet Gray MBE, World Disabled Water-Ski Champion and former Northern Ireland Sportsperson of the Year.

The Chartered Accountants Ulster Society’s Annual Dinner took place at Titanic Belfast and was attended by 350 members and their business guests.

Chartered Accountants Ulster Society’s Annual Dinner Gallery



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