‘We help our members grow through a variety of networking opportunities.’


In the past 18 months the chamber has hosted audiences with major political players including Stormont ministers Sammy Wilson (finance), Arlene Foster (enterprise) and John O’Dowd (education) as well as the new Secretary of State Theresa Villiers. At these gatherings the business body has applied gentle pressure to individuals who have the power to make things happen. At present Ed Balls and Vernon Coaker are not in power but by 2015 they could be. As such it was prudent that Newry’s business community went out of its way to develop a relationship with two men who could in a relatively short space of time be in a position to call some very major shots. This long-term approach is one that other bodies would be wise to replicate after all many of the items on the chamber’s wish list including the southern relief road will not be seriously considered for funding until after the next general election. If Labour finds itself back in Downing Street then the relationships developed at events such as last Thursday’s can start to reap dividends. If Labour doesn’t return to power in 2015 the chamber will continue lobbying existing ministers and power brokers that is the nature of the beast. In the meantime Coaker and Balls can help direct government policy by asking questions and raising the concerns of pressure groups such as the Newry Chamber in Westminster. The fact that local man Conor McGinn works as Mr Coaker’s political advisor also bodes well for the future as the ‘secretary of state in waiting’ will be kept well informed of the issues and desires of the people of Newry and Mourne.


Newry Reporter

17th October 2012