Focused on the future
In his 2,000-word state-of-the-peace-process speech earlier this month — and for those who haven’t read it, this is the summary: the administration in the North is in a parlous state — Gerry Adams finished with this appeal.
“Regardless of political allegiance everyone who values a future based upon equality must become a champion for progress in their own community, in the workplace, in the voluntary and community sector, across the trade union movement, in the churches and the media.”
Interestingly, although the business sector isn’t mention in the list of constituencies which need to step up to the plate, it was a business magazine which first contacted me to ask if I would comment on the importance of political progress at Stormont to economic prosperity.
This is what I have submitted to Business Eye:
It’s crucially important that the Executive makes progress because values and goals are set from the top.
And if the leadership isn’t rocking, then woe betide those of us further down the ladder.
But what you gonna do? There are many business variables we don’t control: currency exchange rates, VAT rates, car parking charges. But business gets on with it.
So, if Stormont remains log jammed, if the Giants Causeway falls into the sea?
What will business do? What it always does: sell.
Would our job be more difficult sans Stormont? Of course, but, as the Belfast-born ex-abbot of the San Francisco Zen Monastery Paul Haller likes to say: “it is what it is”.
And business too must give leadership. We must instil confidence in the community by building our companies, investing continuously, providing sustainable jobs which offer a living wage, and showcasing the excellence which lies at the heart of our economic proposition.
We need to push on, stay relentlessly positive, leave the nay-sayers in our wake and stay focused on the future.
We have seen the past and it doesn’t work which means we don’t have the option of merely spectating while the Executive runs out of road. Instead, business must show it has the bottle and the genius to build the strong and prosperous economic base which can underpin the peace.
No-one would be more delighted than this writer if peace, love, understanding and the Holy Spirit herself were to descend on Stormont. But while we await that eventuality, I am going to be out there shaking the bush, boss.
And for me, being what Gerry Adams brands “a champion for progress” is the launch of our first Homecoming and One City Conference in Belfast from 24-27 September. I am heartened by the response and expanding programme which you can see online.