Northern Ireland risks losing young talent says IoD boss
Northern Ireland risks losing a generation of young people to emigration as they may be put off by the failure of powersharing and a growing number of job losses, a business leader has told a major industry event.
Northern Ireland Institute of Directors (IoD) chief Ian Sheppard urged politicians to intensify their efforts to restore devolution "so that we can get ahead with building and shaping our future together".
The Titanic Belfast dinner also featured Stephen Martin, the Northern Ireland-born director general of the IoD.
Mr Sheppard, who is head of business and corporate banking for Bank of Ireland in Northern Ireland, told guests at the IoD annual dinner last night that the 900 job losses announced over the first two months of the year highlighted the urgency of a return to devolved government.
Jobs have been lost across a range of companies in manufacturing and construction.
Addressing around 450 business people at the event, Mr Sheppard said: "I genuinely believe that the current political impasse risks alienating a generation of young people who want to be part of a bright future for Northern Ireland.
"Otherwise these highly mobile young people will increasingly look beyond Northern Ireland to fulfil their full potential."
He added: "It is hard not to be pessimistic that 12 months on and with no marked progress towards resumption of the Executive, there is the very real danger that we are sleepwalking our way into alternative governance structures, which, at a critical time for Northern Ireland, risks seriously diminishing our ability to realise our future ambitions."
He said critical decisions should no longer be postponed.
"The fact critical decisions regarding all of our futures are being postponed cannot be allowed to continue and so I am using this occasion to reflect the deep-felt views of our members and making a direct appeal to our political leaders to redouble their efforts to restore the decision making institutions in Northern Ireland, so that we can get ahead with building and shaping our future together," he said.
However, he added that the impasse was not stopping businesses from forging ahead.
"Despite the challenges, local business leaders continue to demonstrate strong leadership ... but we need our political leaders to seize the initiative and deliver on the mandate they were elected to discharge," he said.