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An economic dream team

The top industry experts have been tasked with driving the Northern Ireland economy have been named.

The business brains make up the newly established Economic Advisory Group (EAG), which was formed in the wake of the Independent Review of Economic Policy (IREP).

Its members are Professor Frances Ruane, Economic and Social Research Institute; Michael Ryan CBE, Bombardier Aerospace; Mark Nodder, Wright Group; Alan Armstrong, Almac; Stephen Kingon, Invest NI Board; Gerry Mallon, Northern Bank; Lorraine Hall, Kestrel Foods and Bill McGinnis, NI Employment and Skills Adviser.

The EAG, which held its first meeting at Northern Ireland Science Park on Friday, met with Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster who ordered the IREP last year.

The group of experts from economics and business, who will meet quarterly, will provide independent advice aimed at challenging and developing public policy and strategic thinking on the Northern Ireland and UK economy to the minister. She welcomed the inaugural meeting of the group, which is chaired by independent economist Kate Barker CBE, former member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England.

Arlene Foster said: “The Economic Advisory Group brings together some of the top minds in business, skills and economics to provide independent advice, aimed at challenging and developing public policy and strategic thinking on the Northern Ireland and UK economy.

“The primary focus, over the next few months, will be for the Economic Advisory Group to contribute to the development of an Economic Strategy. They will also have a key role in informing the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment’s (DETI) contribution to the next Northern Ireland Executive Programme for Government and the development of the 2011-2014 DETI Corporate Plan.”

Chair of EAG, Kate Barker said: “I believe that the group can make a valuable contribution to the development of economic policy in Northern Ireland. I am looking forward to working closely with my EAG colleagues on the key issues, leading to robust policy for Northern Ireland which will enable entrepreneurship and drive prosperity.”

The first meeting covered the terms of reference for the EAG, IREP, economic priorities for Northern Ireland, a discussion on the key priorities for EAG and developing a communication strategy.

Belfast Telegraph