Staff and guests of GMcG Chartered Accountants Group were part of a capacity attendance at this year's CAI Annual Dinner. The event took place at the splendidly appointed Great Hall of Belfast's City Hall on November 26th.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening with four hundred guests present to hear GMcG’s Tony Nicholl give his President’s address. Mr Nicholl urged local politicians to ensure Northern Ireland’s ‘fresh start’ doesn’t become a ‘false start’.
“The Fresh Start Agreement signed last week is a significant step forward for Northern Ireland, but it is critical that our politicians back up the words with action by starting to engage in economic politics.
“Instability is devastating. Northern Ireland has a great deal to offer as an investment location. It is a great place to live and it can be a great place in which to do business. We cannot afford to damage and disrupt our future any longer.
“We cannot risk our economy, our jobs and our reputation with potential investors, especially as we work to recover from the longest recession in living memory. Our politicians have a difficult job. Of course they want Northern Ireland to prosper. That is not in doubt. But we can no longer allow the past to delay our future.
“Unfortunately our political structures have been in disarray for many years. We have had many fresh starts and while the business community is hopeful, it remains to be seen whether or not this fresh start is in fact a false start.
“A number of our politicians at Stormont acknowledge the damage that the flag waving politics of the past has had on the business community. It is essential that our politicians start to engage in proper economic politics and appreciate that inward investment into Northern Ireland should be welcomed, regardless of the community that the investor seeks to invest in.
“I know that I am not alone in calling for our leaders to put the years of brinksmanship and division behind us. Northern Ireland has to make a shared future work, and a shared future committed to peace and prosperity, needs to start now.”
Mr Nicholl also welcomed the setting of a potential date and rate for a Corporation Tax cut in Northern Ireland: “We see it as a step which will improve Northern Ireland’s competitiveness. A reduction in the Corporation Tax rate can be an important catalyst for economic development in Northern Ireland, just as it has been for the Republic of Ireland.
“It is critical that this incentive is backed up with investment in skills and infrastructure, along with stability and a new commitment to economic politics at Stormont.”
The audience also enjoyed an address by guest speaker Alastair Campbell, journalist, broadcaster and political aide. This was followed by Irish-American comedian Des Bishop who kept people in fine spirit with his inimitable take on Irish Society.