Business leaders have welcomed the opportunity to engage with local government officials on Brexit but want greater clarity from those involved in negotiations on future trading arrangements.
That was the message of those in attendance at an IoD NI event which heard from senior officials from the Department for the Economy.
The latest in IoD NI’s Connect and Influence series, the event which was hosted and sponsored by the System Operator for Northern Ireland (SONI) provided members with the opportunity to engage with the department’s Permanent Secretary Noel Lavery.
Discussion at the event, which also heard from EirGrid Group CEO Mark Foley, covered a range of themes, including energy policy, skills, and further and higher education, however, Brexit topped the agenda.
Following the event, Mark Huddleston, Management and Leadership Ambassador, IoD NI said:
“The Connect and Influence series affords business leaders with a unique opportunity to engage with those working within government on some of the most pressing business issues so we very much welcomed the opportunity to partner with SONI as we met with Noel Lavery and other senior officials from the Department for the Economy.
“Officials provided a useful and very insightful update on the current state of play of the local economy with a wider look at the future in the context of Brexit, possible impact of the various backstop proposals but importantly the vital issues not covered by the backstop arrangements.
“This was welcomed by those present, who viewed the engagement as crucial as they prepare their firms for the UK’s exit from the European Union.
“However, it was clear from discussions among members, during an in-depth question and answer session, there is a growing sense that time is running out for those involved at the coal-face of negotiations to provide greater clarity on what future trading arrangements will look like and the need to advance the discussion both on other Brexit issues alongside key issues around infrastructure, productivity and skills.”
SONI spokesperson Natasha Sayee said:
“We were delighted to host the latest event in the IoD NI’s Connect and Influence series.
“Noel Lavery, Permanent Secretary of the Department for the Economy and his colleagues provided real insights into the challenges and opportunities facing Northern Ireland’s economy.
“This level of engagement is invaluable to business leaders and employers, particularly here at SONI given the role a reliable and secure electricity supply plays in facilitating economic growth and future investment.
“We were also pleased to take guests on a tour of our control centre, where our engineers manage Northern Ireland’s entire transmission system.
“Looking ahead, we will continue to work closely with the IoD NI and its members to help create competitive business conditions across Northern Ireland.”
Book to attend our Brexit Planning Workshop on 21st November