Alliance East Antrim MLA, Stewart Dickson, hailed the eighth annual East Antrim Alliance Business Breakfast as “a wonderful success”.
Mr Dickson welcomed East Antrim and Northern Ireland business owners, employers and Alliance Party representatives to the breakfast, which focussed on the ever-present issue of Brexit, and the progress (or lack of), made so far.
Guest speakers at the breakfast were: Simon McDowell, a Director at Kilwaughter Minerals, Dr Stephen Farry MLA former Employment & Learning Minister, and Deputy Leader of the Alliance Party, and Naomi Long MEP, Alliance Party Leader.
The theme of ‘Brexit’ was introduced by Mr Dickson as he emphasised the unnecessary and disastrous consequences of a ‘no-deal Brexit’ on the local and national economy.
Simon McDowell spoke on the success of Kilwaughter Minerals as a local and UK business, and the work that the company does to give back to the community. Mr McDowell also pointed out specific concerns regarding the movement of goods in his sector in a post-Brexit world, with the added red tape a serious problem, particularly for small businesses.
Alliance Party Deputy Leader, Stephen Farry MLA, highlighted that a common-sense solutions could still be found if people resolve to work towards them. Northern Ireland can be a bridge, not a barrier between trading blocs. In fact, in such a context there is considerable opportunity for the local economy, whereas a ‘No-deal’ scenario would be extremely damaging.
Naomi Long began by pointing out there was a lot of goodwill towards Northern Ireland in Europe, and an interest in ensuring peace by Parliamentarians across Europe. Naomi also noted the sadness that many felt that the UK was increasingly losing influence when previously its opinion was actively sought. She also expressed her concern that the Brexit process has become an exercise in seeking blame for the negative consequences that will eventually arise, rather than trying to resolve the issues at hand.