Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Ceremonies a sign of our emboldened times

It's been a busy day for the top brass in the Executive. Between announcing plans to get people back into work, opening both stock exchange back offices and another huge space to benefit the Northern Ireland film industry, there's no doubt that our elected representatives have been working hard.

The two big unveiling ceremonies of the day, the CME Group's technology centre and the Titanic Studios extension, have already been well flagged but are certainly two events that 10 years ago would have seemed unimaginable.

Back in 2002, we were still in the first stages of one of the greatest bull runs that stock or property markets have ever seen.

Then, if you'd told any right thinking person that within a decade we would be welcoming the second major stock exchange to these shores or indeed be considered one of the front-running destinations for film-makers from around the world, you'd have been swiftly dismissed as the kind of forward-thinking loon who we can well do without.

What a difference a few years makes.

Travelling to London last Friday night proved we've come a long way - if only for the plethora of cast and crew members from the latest Game of Thrones series who were also sharing the plane.

Then, having access to Sky television - a luxury not available to poor business journalists normally - over the weekend brought home how big the series really is and how important our film industry has become.

Meanwhile, the tourist industry was showing it's not shy of the camera, nor indeed any other type of media.

Adverts for Northern Ireland, whether on billboards or on the box, have rammed home the message that we're well and truly open for business and have even piqued the interest of those who might not have been so open to a trip to these shores in the past.

That's good news because London, for all its problems, certainly seems to have shrugged off the last vestiges of downturn and is powering ahead from strength to strength.

We're always slightly behind the London economy and will no doubt follow its lead eventually but the quicker we can take hold of its good fortune the better.

If we can, then expect many more unveiling celebrations in the coming months - or at least the odd film premier.

And let's hope that in 10 years time we are able to look back and marvel at some of the new sectors which we have excelled in during the intervening period.

We're already following in London's footsteps by specialising in financial services so maybe there are other areas which we can grab onto the coat-tails of too.

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