'Fix it for our kids' sake' IoD boss demands of politicians

Stephen Martin, director-general of the Institute of Directors, who spoke at the organisation's dinner in Titanic Belfast
Gary McDonald Business Editor

NORTHERN Ireland risks alienating a generation of young people, who are disillusioned by the ongoing political stalemate, the regional head of influential business body the Institute of Directors told the organisation's annual dinner.

And with more than 1,000 job losses since the start of the year, he added that "it is hard not to be pessimistic".

In a wide-ranging address to more than 450 business leaders at Titanic Belfast, IoD NI chairman Ian Sheppard said: “I genuinely believe 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: “Given our focus on good governance, it's 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.

“The fact that 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 am making a direct appeal to our political leaders to re double their efforts to restore the decision making institutions here so that we can get ahead with building and shaping our future together.

“Despite the challenges, local business leaders continue to demonstrate strong leadership, to grow their businesses and to create employment but we need our political leaders to seize the initiative and deliver on the mandate they were elected to discharge.”

The event, sponsored by Bank of Ireland and law firm Arthur Cox, heard from the Belfast-born IoD director-general Stephen Martin and the former chief operating officer of Skyscanner Mark Logan, who both discussed leadership challenges.

Stephen, who has lead the IoD since the beginning of 2017, joined the organisation following a successful career in the private sector, most recently as CEO of English-based building firm Clugston Group.

Mark oversaw major growth at Edinburgh-based airline ticket search engine Skyscanner. During his time at the firm, from which he has now moved on, staff numbers increased from 100 to more than 600 while revenues jumped almost 50 per cent in 2016 to more than £90 million.

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