Belfast Telegraph

Newry man Brian Conlon behind world-class firm dies from cancer aged 53

Brian Conlon at the Belfast Telegraph Business Awards in 2015
Brian Conlon at the Belfast Telegraph Business Awards in 2015
First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness with First Derivatives CEO Brian Conlon in the company’s Newry headquarters

By Annamay McNally

The founder of a world-renowned tech company, described as a 'leading light', has died following a short battle with cancer.

Brian Conlon vowed to continue in his role as CEO of the Newry firm First Derivatives after his diagnosis was revealed in May.

Mr Conlon, who was the Belfast Telegraph's Business Person of the Year in 2015, died in Daisy Hill Hospital yesterday.

A former Abbey Grammar student, the 53-year-old was married to Julie and had two young children.

Seamus Keating, the interim executive chairman of First Derivatives, led tributes yesterday.

He said: "Brian built a world-class business in First Derivatives.

"His drive, ambition and determination inspired all who had the privilege to work with him.

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"This news is a profound shock to all of us.

"We offer Brian's family our sincerest condolences and ask for privacy on their behalf at this sad and most difficult of times."

DUP leader Arlene Foster, a former Enterprise Minister, described Mr Conlon as a 'trailblazer' in the fin-tech sector.

"I am very sorry to hear this sad news," she said.

"Brian was always very committed to creating high quality jobs for the local community and was a trailblazer in financial technology. A huge loss. My deepest sympathy to his family."

SDLP Newry and Armagh MLA Justin McNulty previously worked for Mr Conlon.

He said: "Brian was a revelation in business. On a global stage he has built a company to be proud of. On an Ireland basis he is a leading light. Brian spotted global opportunity where no one else did.

"But on top of that he combined pride in his home town of Newry with his knowledge that the people of the North have the education and drive to excel.

"Building a billion dollar company with clients from Sydney to New York, Hong Kong to Stockholm, from a starting point in his mother's house is an incredible achievement."

Mr McNulty said his former boss had created over 2,000 jobs at a Newry base which had breathed life, diversity and dynamism into the city.

"I am very proud to have known this great man and to have called him my boss for a time," he added.

"Brian was a family man, an extraordinary entrepreneur, a businessman, and a sportsman."

Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy said Mr Conlon had been "hugely committed" to the Newry area and region.

"Brian Conlon and his partners have grown First Derivatives from a small local company into a globally renowned company. Over those years they have given many young people from the area and across Ireland opportunities to gain employment and to travel the world," he said.

"I would like to extend my sympathy to Brian's wife, children and entire family circle."

Katie Doran, founder and partner at Lanyon Communications, said Mr Conlon's death was 'devastating' for his family, friends and colleagues.

"Newry has lost its leading visionary and ambassador," she said yesterday.

"Brian built a global business which he chose to locate in his home town, creating employment for thousands and wealth for many working closely alongside him."

Belfast Telegraph