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Rugby's Paul O'Connell to address 700 guests at extended Waterfront venue

Rugby star Paul O'Connell is to be guest speaker at the first event in Belfast's newly extended Waterfront Conference Centre.

The former Ireland and Lions captain, who this week announced his retirement, will address a Champions Dinner hosted by the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry in May.

More than 700 people are expected to attend the gala event.

Almost £30 million has been spent transforming the popular Waterfront Hall concert venue, which opened 20 years ago, into a world class conference centre.

It includes interconnecting halls, three additional meeting rooms and a new reception area which will integrate with the existing auditorium and studio spaces to create the city's largest conference and exhibition facility, catering for up to 5,000 guests across 7,000 sq metres of flexible space.

Construction work began in September 2014.

The new design was slated on social media last summer by some people who claimed the iconic view of the round Waterfront Hall had been blocked.

However, Belfast City Council urged critics to wait until work was complete before making a final judgment.

The first major conference takes place on May 11 when around 2,000 medical specialists will descend on Belfast for the annual International Surgical Congress of the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland (ASGBI).

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