Belfast Telegraph

Chamber of Commerce chief tells parties 'failure isn't an option'

By Margaret Canning

Failure is not an option for the economy of Northern Ireland, the head of the Chamber of Commerce here has said.

President Stephen McCully was speaking at the chamber's annual banquet, where he welcomed this week's A Fresh Start - the Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan.

Mr McCully, managing director of Power NI, also called on politicians to make "timely and confident decisions" for the economy.

"Failure this time is not an option - we are already lagging significantly behind our neighbouring economies," he said.

"But we have so much within our grasp - investors ready to make a commitment to the province, a business community primed for opportunities to grow and export, and the opportunity to unleash the pent-up potential of our local talent."

Last night's glittering event was held at Titanic Belfast, and featured a speech by acclaimed local actor James Nesbitt.

Mr McCully said there was a desire to see "better political processes" with politicians making "timely and confident decisions" to benefit the economy and society.

And he said the business community recognised the challenges that faced the Executive. "It also recognises that there are hard political choices that need to be made to allow such priorities to be properly resourced," he added.

The energy boss praised the efforts of innovative Northern Ireland companies such as Glen Dimplex, which is based in Newry and is the world's biggest maker of domestic heating appliances.

He also name-checked Ulster Carpets, as "world leaders" in Axminster carpets.

And he praised the new breed of entrepreneurs, such as Gareth Morrison of security software firm the Lava Group, and David and Fiona Boyd-Armstrong of Shortcross Gin.

Mr McCully was addressing around 550 figures from the business community at the Northern Ireland chamber's President's Banquet event.

Other guests on the night included the Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell, Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey and Health Minister Simon Hamilton.

Belfast Telegraph