Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Minister clicks on to web answer session

Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie is this week to hold an on-line discussion with local business people as part of an initiative by the Institute of Directors to stimulate debate about combating the recession.

It will be the first time any Executive minister has used web-based technology to interact with the business community.

The IoD said today a further three ministers were expected to take part in future online discussions.

Ms Ritchie will go live on NIcrunchtalk.com site on Wednesday at 3pm for an hour to answer questions about her department’s work and how it is helping take forward the Executive’s economic priorities. NIcrunchtalk.com was launched as an on-line forum for business people, providing economic news, updates on Assembly and Executive business and enabling registered members to debate the issues associated with the downturn and the credit crunch. The site, which is linked to the Belfast Telegraph website, has received more than 1,000 unique hits in the past two months.

The link to the page on the Telegraph website can be found at http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/iod/

Joanne Stuart, chairman of IoD Northern Ireland, said: “We are very pleased that Margaret Ritchie has agreed to launch this series of online discussions with business leaders.

“DSD is responsible for a number of areas that impact on economic development, including urban regeneration and social housing, and is therefore among the departments whose decisions can help local businesses during the recession.”

The Minister said: “I am particularly keen to ensure the views of people in all types of business are taken into account by both DSD and the Executive.

“This type of dialogue is essential if we are to work together to deal with the challenges being presented by the global downturn and I welcome the innovative and practical way in which the IoD has proposed to do this.”

The online discussion with the Minister is available only to registered members of www.NIcrunchtalk.com.

NIcrunchtalk.com was established by the Institute of Directors Northern Ireland Division as an online initiative to keep business leaders informed of fast-moving political and economic developments.

The site also enables them to share views and experiences about the effects of the recession and the credit crunch on Northern Ireland.

rmorton@belfasttelegraph.co.uk