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Revealed: Neeson and McIlroy among Northern Ireland people in Sunday Times Rich List

By Claire McNeilly

Billionaire businesswoman Baroness Ballyedmond, actress Roma Downey, actor Liam Neeson, singer Van Morrison and golfer Rory McIlroy are officially some of Northern Ireland's wealthiest people.

They are among 66 entries from here, worth a combined £7.692bn, who feature on the Sunday Times Rich List, which has measured Irish wealth annually for 21 years.

The top 50 here have a combined wealth of £6.956bn - representing a 7.25% hike on the Northern Ireland top 50 last year, who were then worth £6.486bn.

Lord Ballyedmond's family is the wealthiest in Northern Ireland, with a fortune of £1.42bn.

The late pharmaceuticals mogul, who founded Newry-based Norbrook laboratories in 1969, was killed in a helicopter crash near his Gillingham estate in Norfolk in 2014.

His widow Lady Mary and sons James and Eddie jnr now own the business.

Topping the local list by a cosiderable margin, his billionaire family is ranked eighth out of 300 in the list, which was published yesterday.

The richest couple on the Northern Ireland list are Londonderry actress and producer Roma Downey and her husband Mark Burnett, who are estimated to be worth £390m.

The US TV moguls - who are best known for having worked together on hit American reality television series The Apprentice, which then featured US President Donald Trump, are currently the 27th richest people on the list - the same position they held in 2016.

Other high-profile entrants include Neeson, the wealthiest Irish actor, who is worth £96m, Sir Van (£53m) and McIlroy - who heads up the list of sporting figures with a £82m fortune and ranks equal 142nd on the overall list.

Oscar-nominated for his role in Schindler's List, Ballymena native Neeson is one of Hollywood's best-paid actors and ranked at 122 out of the 300 wealthiest people in Ireland.

As the Sunday Times said: "Not bad for a former Guinness forklift driver and amateur boxer who punched a 15-year-old pupil on the 'worst day' of his teacher training after the student threatened him with a knife."

First Derivatives boss Brian Conlon is worth £176m, up 19 places since last year, while Derry City Football Club chairman Philip O'Doherty has jumped two places, with an estimated total wealth of approximately £171m.

The combined wealth of the richest 300 individuals and families in Ireland hit an eye-watering £64.45bn last year, while the top 250 are now better off in euro terms than at any time in history.

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