Launching The Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards from left, Cathal Geoghegan, Mount Charles, Ryan Feeney, Queen’s University Belfast, Damian McGivern, Ulster University, Gerri Wright, Phoenix Natural Gas, Noel Doran, Editor The Irish News, Karen Patterson, BBC Radio Ulster, Orlagh O’Neill, Carson McDowell, Laura Cowan, Titanic Belfast, Sam Davidson, Henderson Group and Deputy Lord Mayor, Cllr Paul Greenfield, Armagh, Banbridge  & Craigavon Council. See for more details and to downloa

YEAR eleven of the Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards will break fresh new ground with the introduction of TWO new categories.

And other elements of the initiative have been revised and revitalised as the political and economic landscape enters a fascinating period of change.

The Awards were launched at Titanic Belfast at a reception attended by a range of business organisations as well as representatives of our main business partners.

Retail NI has launched today with the publication of its Programme for Government, Creating a Northern Ireland Economic Powerhouse and a survey which uncovers that 91% of independent retail businesses saw their costs rise in the last year.

Retail NI has described today’s budget as disappointing with little in it for the local retail sector.

Retail NI has congratulated those elected to the new NI Assembly and called for leadership in the forthcoming three weeks of discussions to form a new Government.

Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:“The key challenge is for the political parties to hit the ground running for immediate talks on forming an administration. Continuing political instability is both bad for business and the economy as a whole.

Business groups, civil leaders and the higher education sector have come together to urge the public and our politicians to fully support devolved government in Northern Ireland.

In a powerful open letter published on the eve of the election, an unprecedented coalition of business representative bodies, the voluntary sector and the higher education sector identify three specific “asks” for our politicians: 

Twenty-eight Business Organisations representing Retail, Hospitality, Manufacturing, Food and Pharmacy have all supported the targeted approach to Business Rate Relief for the independent retail and hospitality sectors as outlined by the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA), Hospitality Ulster and the Department for Finance.

The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) has expressed disappointment with the proposed UK Government White Paper on Brexit as full of aspiration but little certainty for the retail sector in Northern Ireland.

 NIIRTA Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:

“Whichever way the Government tries to promote this White Paper, leaving the Single Market and Customs Union is neither positive for our retail sector or local economy as a whole” 

The Chambers of Commerce in Belfast, Newry and Lisburn, the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) and Hospitality Ulster has issued a joint call to the Infrastructure Minister to reverse his decision to hike on-street car parking charges in Belfast, Newry and Lisburn.

The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) has welcomed the publication of Economy 2030, a new draft Industrial Strategy, by the Economy Minister Simon Hamilton.                 

NIIRTA Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:

The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) has welcomed the UK Government’s Green Paper on Industrial Strategy and is committed to working with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to develop a ‘sector deal’ for the retail sector, addressing issues such as developing skills and supporting businesses to start and grow.