Belfast Chamber CEO says “patience has run out” and calls for “certainty and stability” from Brexit decision makers at annual lunch

Belfast Chamber has today hosted its Annual Lunch sponsored by KPMG. Over 300 business leaders, politicians and civic figures attended the event held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at Shaw’s Bridge and heard from the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Tánaiste Simon Coveney TD and Chief of Executive of Tourism Ireland and Dublin Chamber President, Niall Gibbons.

Welcoming guests, Belfast Chamber President Rajesh Rana spoke of his ambitions for the city saying, “Belfast Chamber is the voice of business in our city. And we can confidently say that because we represent over 500 companies of all sizes, from all sectors and from all parts of our great city.

“We are growing as an organisation and that is great. But we don’t want to simply grow in size just for the sake of it.

“As we grow in size we also grow in influence and that allows us to make a difference for you our members and businesses across Belfast. As well as interesting times, these are exciting times for our city.

“Everywhere around us we see a city that is growing, that is full of energy and that possesses huge potential.

“We are as ambitious for Belfast and growing its economy as the companies who make up our membership are for their own businesses. We want to see Belfast not just grow and become wealthier, but to do so in a way that affords opportunities for all of our citizens by shaping the city into the best possible place to work, visit and invest.

“Belfast Chamber is firm in its belief that if Belfast works then Northern Ireland as a whole does well. Belfast is the engine that drives our entire region’s economy. We are unapologetic in our championing of this great city and we will continue to speak up, seeking what is best for our city and being a clear and consistent voice supporting business in Belfast”.

Belfast Chamber Chief Executive Simon Hamilton told the audience, “Our focus for today’s lunch is ‘Boosting Business Links Between Belfast and Dublin’.

“We didn’t choose that theme because of Brexit although we believe that affirming that relationship is especially important at this time.

“Regardless of how Brexit pans out, it is important to the economies on both sides of the border that we maintain and grow those connections that have been so carefully nurtured in recent years.
“Belfast Chamber will be to the fore, working with our colleagues in Dublin Chamber, in trying to build those better links between our two cities”.

Addressing the UK’s exit from the EU, Simon Hamilton added, “Brexit is essentially a political problem but the impact on our economy has been profound.

“86 per cent of Belfast Chamber members are opposed to a ‘no deal’ Brexit because they know that it would have catastrophic consequences for the entire economy of Northern Ireland.

“Businesses have consistently and clearly spelt out their desire to see a deal done.

“It seems incredible that we sit here today just over a week away from the date when the United Kingdom is due to depart the European Union and so much uncertainty still exists.

Our message to those in positions of power and influence here in Belfast and London and Dublin and Brussels is a simple one. Give us the certainty and stability we all need. The time for games and stunts is well and truly over. Patience, thin as it was, has run out”.

Johnny Hanna, Partner at KPMG, who sponsored the lunch added, “KPMG is absolutely delighted to support today’s hugely successful Belfast Chamber Annual Lunch: Boosting Business links between Belfast and Dublin.

“KPMG’s teams in Belfast and Dublin regularly collaborate to support our clients to realise their growth ambitions.

“In the face of continued uncertainty, it is vital that businesses along the Eastern Economic Corridor connect and collaborate too, to drive economic growth and help build a prosperous future for all.”

Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce is made up of businesspeople from a full range of commercial enterprises from retailers to hoteliers, solicitors to estate agents, property developers to media, tech companies to transport providers and aims to deal with a wide range of issues affecting trade and commerce in Belfast.

For further information working with or joining Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce, please log on to: or call 028 9033 1399 or call into Arthur House, Suite 306, 41 Arthur Street, Belfast, BT1 4GB to speak with one of the team.