Northern Ireland

76 northerners make it onto list of Ireland's richest 300 people

TEN years after one of the worst economic downturns in the Emerald Isle’s history, Ireland’s richest have never been richer.

The Sunday Times Irish Rich List, published yesterday, shows that Ireland’s 300 richest people are worth a combined £69.6bn, up from £65.5bn in 2017.

A total of 76 people from Northern Ireland have made it onto the list, however at £9.4bn their combined wealth accounts for only 13 per cent of the total fortune of Ireland’s richest 300 – despite the north making up 27 per cent of the island’s population.

Familiar faces from Northern Ireland on the list include Rory McIlroy and Liam Neeson, while U2, Enya and Niall Horan all make the grade from the south.

The Republic has one of the world’s highest billionaire rates for its 4.7m population. There is one billionaire for every 313,000 in the south, almost twice the rate of America or Sweden.

Northern Ireland’s wealthiest people were particularly badly hit last year by the fall in the value of sterling and sluggish economic growth (around one per cent in 2017, compared to the south’s 4.9 per cent).

According to the Sunday Times, Lady Ballyedmond is the north’s richest person, coming in at number six in the rankings with a fortune of £1.62bn.

Lady Ballyedmond (70) is Northern Ireland’s wealthiest thanks to the success of Norbrook Laboratories, the world’s leading veterinary pharmaceuticals company, which she founded with her late husband Eddie Haughey in 1969.

She is the only person from the north who made it into the top ten.

The bulk of wealth across Ireland is centred in Dublin, making up 40 per cent of the total. But while the Republic, like England, Scotland and Wales, has its wealth stockpiled in its capital – the same cannot be said for Northern Ireland.

Co Down, not Belfast, accounts for 32.9 per cent of the north’s wealth. The county has 12 millionaires and is worth a combined £3.1bn, compared to Belfast’s £2.7bn. This is primarily because Lady Ballyedmond and family live in Newry.

The richest person on the island is Galen Weston and family, who made their £10.05bn fortune in the food and retail sectors.

Canada’s largest supermarket chain, Loblaw’s, is controlled by the Westons, as is Selfridges department store in the UK.

Other notable Northern Ireland entries on the list include TV and film producer Mark Burnett and his wife, Derry-born TV star Roma Downey, who clock in at number 29 with a fortune of £390m.

Golfer Rory McIlroy is the north's wealthiest sportsman. Overall for all Ireland he ranked at spot number 117 with £110m wealth.

Ballymena man Liam Neeson topped the actors' list with a fortune of £99m.

Newry-based Brian Conlon, head of software firm First Derivatives, makes it into spot number 36 with £326m, while Paul and Jeremy Eakin, who head up medical supplies firm TG Eakin, come in at spot 38 with £320m.