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Northern Ireland now has 14,000 millionaires

... and they're not just our film and sport stars

By Claire McNeilly

Published 28/08/2015

Golfer Rory McIlroy
Golfer Rory McIlroy
Nadine Coyle
Billy Hastings

Being a millionaire in Northern Ireland is no big deal, apparently.

According to a new report, our wee country boasts a staggering 14,000 of them.

That equates to around one in every 128 people here... and that remarkable figure is expected to increase when our sluggish property market finally takes off.

Normally it's not difficult to identify Northern Ireland folk with seven-figure bank balances - sports starts such as Rory McIlroy and Eddie Irvine, for instance, or Hollywood mogul Roma Downey.

High-profile businessmen and women such as Sir Billy Hastings and Lady Ballyedmond also spring easily to mind.

But, according to new research from Barclays Wealth, you could be walking down the street surrounded by local millionaires and not even know it.

That's because, in the UK, their numbers have shot up by a whopping 40% in the past five years, to 715,000, with one adult in every 65 being classed as a millionaire.

Clearly Northern Ireland has plenty of wealthy people, but not compared with London, which boasts 191,000 millionaires, and the rest of the affluent south east of England with 157,000.

The authors of the report expect the overall figure to rise to 800,000 within the next decade.

Despite positively dripping with millionaires, however, Northern Ireland is cited as having the lowest average income, at only £16,000 per head - less than half the £37,000 London rate.

Notwitstanding that, we're the most generous when it comes charitable donations, with nearly half (45%) of households giving to charity.

Jonathan Dobbin, regional director, Northern Ireland, Barclays Wealth and Investment Management, said the rebound in house prices and stock markets was driving the trend.

"Rising house prices in Northern Ireland have created a significant increase in new millionaires, and this number is steadily increasing as we recover from our most recent recession," he said.

"A strong rebound in global stock markets has also been an important factor, whilst there has also been an increase in the number of M&A (merger and acquisitions) transactions, which has, in some cases, created significant personal wealth for shareholders."

Christopher Morrow, communications and policy manager at the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, said new businesses were currently at a record high.

"Northern Ireland had a bigger fallout from the recession than the rest of the UK, but business conditions are beginning to stabilise and improve," he said.

"The food and drink and creative industries are doing particularly well and employing a lot of people, while we have a strong financial and professional services profile here."

Who's who on the rich list

Rory McIlroy: World No.2 golfer from Holywood, Co Down. Worth £38m

Eddie Irvine: Retired Formula One racing driver and property magnate. Worth £80m

Roma Downey: Derry-born actress, famous for playing Monica in the CBS series Touched By An Angel. Worth £375m

Liam Neeson: Ballymena-born action movie hero. Worth £80m

Nadine Coyle: Singer-songwriter from Derry and former member of Girls Aloud. Worth £8.10m

Chris Watson: Runs Antrim-based Chain Reaction Cycles, the world’s biggest online bike store. Worth £155m

Brian Conlon: Founded and runs First Derivatives, a Newry-based financial technology firm. Worth £96m

Lady Ballyedmond: The widow of Eddie Haughey, the founder of  animal pharmaceutical company Norbook Laboratories in Newry. Worth £1.4bn

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