'Complexity of peace must always trump simplicity of war' says new accountancy head

Feargal McCormack, managing director of PKF-FPM, has been elected president of Chartered Accountants Ireland
Gary McDonald Business Editor

THE new head of Ireland's oldest professional accountancy body insists that politicians in the north "need to be encouraged rather than castigated" if the region's economy is to move forward.

And he believes "compromise for the greater good" must be encouraged if the logjam at Stormont is to be resolved.

Feargal McCormack, founder and principal of the Newry-headquartered PKF-FPM practice, has been elevated to the presidency of Chartered Accountants Ireland, founded 130 years ago and representing 26,500 Irish members in 93 countries.

"The complexity of peace should always trump the simplicity of war," said Mr McCormack, who has already made history by becoming the first president from the north not from Belfast (he's lived all his life in Warrenpoint).

And he said he'll use his presidency to be "positive and encouraging", despite the spectre of Brexit and the stymying political vacuum.

"My overarching theme for my year is to be caring and people focused - which means caring for members, staff, trainee students and the community," he said.

"But it's impossible to lose sight of the fact that the biggest contribution to the international competitiveness in Northern Ireland and on the island of Ireland is political stability, which should naturally incorporate an agreement on any Brexit arrangements going forward."

He added: "It seems we're forever destined to operate in interesting times, and the uncertainty around Brexit and a functioning Executive are massively challenging.

"But we must recognise that the one factor which will make the greatest contribution to the international competitiveness in Northern Ireland is political stability.

"We can’t change the past, although have probably been shaped by it. But we can influence the future. And if not now, when? And if not us, who?

"It was Charles de Gaulle who said: 'I have come to the conclusion that politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians'."

He said delivering political stability is the vital factor in securing a positive economic future on the island.

“Despite the best efforts of the Northern Ireland political parties and the British and Irish governments, the reality is that the journey of implementation has been just a complex as peace negotiations chairman George Mitchell envisaged they would be.

“Huge progress has been made, not only in terms of lives saved, but the economic and quality of life on the island has been transformed.

"Right now though we must support and encourage our politicians to grasp the current opportunity to deliver political stability for the island of Ireland. We owe it to our, and to future generations, to ensure that political stability and mutual understanding are the norm."

Mr McCormack - a regular contributor to the Irish News business pages - succeeds Shauna Greely as president.

At the CAI's annual meeting in PKF-FPM's Belfast office, Conall O’Halloran, partner and head of audit practice with KPMG in Dublin, was elected deputy president while Paul Henry, director at Osborne King in Belfast, became vice-president.

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