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Revealed: The 20 richest people in Northern Ireland

By Adrian Rutherford

Northern Ireland's richest person has amassed an estimated fortune of more than £1.4bn.

Lady Ballyedmond, the widow of the late pharmaceuticals entrepreneur Lord Ballyedmond features prominently in the latest Sunday Times Rich List, to be published this weekend.

She leads a list of our 20 richest individuals and families, whose combined wealth has soared by £366m since last year's edition. Just one of this group saw a fall in their fortune over the past 12 months.

Published annually, the Sunday Times Rich List is a veritable who's-who of the UK's entrepreneurial class.

This year's list features Glen Electrics owner Martin Naughton and Michael Graham, the construction tycoon, for the first time. Both were previously listed only in the Sunday Times Irish Rich List.

Also included is the husband and wife team who helped launch Donald Trump's TV career.

Robert Watts, compiler of the list, said: "Gone are the days when our country's wealthiest people came from a select band of sectors, such as property, finance and industry.

"Our Northern Ireland rich list typifies that greater diversity - with fortunes built from TV, writing books and selling bikes."

Lady Ballyedmond inherited a £344m fortune as well as the £1bn Norbrook Laboratories business, one of the world's leading veterinary pharmaceutical companies, after her husband Lord Ballyedmond died in a helicopter accident in 2014.

Her wealth is up £20m to £1.42bn, making her the richest person in Northern Ireland, and the 16th richest woman in the UK.

Martin Naughton is the second richest in Northern Ireland and a new entry in this year's UK rich list with a wealth of £1.19bn, more than three times higher than the next person on the list.

Naughton is widely regarded as one of Ireland's greatest philanthropists and donated £18.3m last March towards arts and education, despite profits at his Newry-based Glen Electric business having almost halved.

Third richest in Northern Ireland is actress Roma Downey, alongside her husband Mark Burnett, with £390m. Mark devised the US reality TV show The Apprentice that, in part, helped to increase the fame of its star, Donald Trump.

Over 30 years ago Mark went to Hollywood with just $200 to his name but is now regarded America's king of reality TV, having also dreamt up Survivor, Shark Tank and The Voice.

In fourth place on this year's list are brothers Paul and Jeremy Eakin and family - the only fallers in the top 20 - whose wealth is down by £10m to £300m.

Of our other millionaires, Peter FitzGerald's wealth stands at £255m, up £130m from 2016, making him the fifth richest in Northern Ireland.

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