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Dickson Celebrates the Success of Alliance East Antrim Business Breakfast

East Antrim MLA and Economy Spokesperson for the Alliance Party, Stewart Dickson, lauded the East Antrim Alliance Business Breakfast, describing it as “a tremendous success.”

Held at Carrickfergus Golf Club on Friday 2nd September, Mr Dickson welcomed business owners and managers, local employers, and Alliance Party members from across the constituency and beyond, to the Business Breakfast.

Principle Guest Speaker was Maeve Monaghan, CEO of the NOW Group and Chairperson of Clanmil Housing. Danny Donnelly MLA for East Antrim and Naomi Long MLA, Alliance Party Leader, also spoke at the event.

In his opening remarks, Mr Dickson looked back on the challenges and accomplishments of the past year, noting, “It has been a tumultuous year. We’ve confronted the challenges of Stormont’s stagnation, navigated the fallout from Brexit, and grappled with the mounting cost of living.”

However, he emphasised the positive milestones, stating: “This year, we commemorated the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. We had the honour of hosting international dignitaries, celebrated a Presidential visit, and witnessed the election of 67 Alliance Party Councillors, a significant increase from 52 in 2019.”

Highlighting one of his personal milestones, Mr Dickson added: “A particularly memorable moment for me this year was welcoming the US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland, Joe Kennedy, to the All-Party Group for Social Enterprise in Northern Ireland – a Group I am honoured to Chair.

“As many of you know, I am deeply passionate about Social Enterprise, and ensuring the success of the Social Enterprise Act remains top of my agenda for when Stormont reconvenes.”

Keynote speaker Maeve Monaghan underscored the pivotal role of Social Enterprises in the local economy, emphasising their potential to transform lives by supporting numerous individuals and families through employment opportunities.

Ms Monaghan remarked: “Social enterprise has faced numerous challenges over recent years, especially amidst current governance issues. Yet, our focus remains on delivering results. Last year, we secured jobs for 200 individuals and now support over 2,000 people across the Island.”

“Central to our mission is fund generation and reinvestment. A testament to this effort is our Just A Minute ‘JAM’ Cards, which have gained significant traction not only in the UK and Ireland but also internationally.”

On further challenges and achievements, she noted:

“Our supply chain social enterprises, such as Loaf Catering and Loaf Pottery, showcase the immense impact of social value. However, it is essential to be proactive, to seize opportunities, and to ensure continuous support. There's a rising demand for strategic expansion, with the idea of giving purpose and social inclusion that will resonate with many businesses.”

Danny Donnelly, Alliance MLA for East Antrim, said: "The rise to 17 Alliance MLAs should signify progress, but instead, the Assembly remains static, something I am deeply concerned about as a nurse. Nonetheless, on a more positive note, with the Windsor Framework linking us closer to the EU, I remain hopeful for a functional Assembly in the near future.”

Expressing her pleasure at the success of Alliance Business Breakfasts, Alliance Party Leader, Naomi Long MLA, said: “The Business Breakfast remains an important events in the local business calendar, both for organisations from East Antrim and further afield.

She remarked: “This time last year I was Minister for Justice, now we have no ministers, no government and no one to show leadership for businesses.”

“Reform is necessary for stabilisation and transformation of our public services and is now more urgent than ever. We must ensure greater value from every pound spent as we cannot cut services during a crisis and ask people to pay more for dwindling public services.

“External affirmations, like Joe Kennedy's visit, showcase Northern Ireland's potential. Our businesses are innovating, and they deserve global platforms."

“Reform isn't just a ‘Plan B’; it's fundamental to ‘Plan A’ – aiming for a government that's both functional and proactive.”

Stewart Dickson MLA speaking at the 2023 East Antrim Alliance Business Breakfast

Naomi Long MLA speaking at the 2023 East Antrim Alliance Business Breakfast

Danny Donnelly MLA speaking at the 2023 East Antrim Alliance Business Breakfast

Maeve Monaghan speaking at the 2023 East Antrim Alliance Business Breakfast

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