Updated: 14/03/18 : 09:48:19
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Collaboration is key for the development of Sligo and the North West – ACCA Ireland Chairman

Collaboration is key to the development of Sligo and the North West region, according to the Chairman of ACCA Ireland, the professional body for accountants.

Sligo native John Gaynor, who is Programme Chair of the BA (Hons) in Accounting at IT Sligo, also pointed to the importance of supporting small and medium businesses in the region by creating an environment where enterprise can flourish.

He views investment in a better road network and reliable broadband as crucial and was pleased with commitments made to the region at the recent launch of Project Ireland 2040.

Mr Gaynor was speaking ahead of the annual ACCA Chairman’s Business Forum and Lunch, which is being hosted in Sligo this year.

This is the main event in the ACCA calendar and marks the end of Mr Gaynor’s tenure as Chairman. Mr Gaynor says it is an honour for him to bring the event to Sligo.

The theme for the business forum is ‘Opportunities for SME growth and regional development in the Northern and Western Region’. The business forum will feature an opening address by Dr Brendan McCormack, President IT Sligo followed by a panel discussion chaired by Brian McEnery, former ACCA Global President.

The panelists for the forum are: David Minton, Director of the Northern and Western Regional Assembly (NWRA); Fiona Candon, President of Sligo Chamber of Commerce; Michael Lennon, President of the Irish Hotels Federation; Joe Gilmore, CEO of Ireland West Airport and Maggie McGhee, Director of Professional Insights ACCA.

The forum will be followed by the lunch with special guest speaker Pat McCann, CEO Dalata Group. Both events will be held on March 23 at Markree Castle in Collooney, Co. Sligo.

Mr Gaynor says he wanted to bring the event to Sligo to highlight the great positives in the region. He says:

“It provides a unique networking opportunity for professionals, entrepreneurs and established businesses from the region as well as a national showcase of all the positives the region has to offer.”

Speaking about the development of the North West region, he pointed to the already great collaboration taking place between such groups as IT Sligo and its Innovation Centre, Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers programme, co-working space The Building Block in Sligo, the Chambers of Commerce, Local Enterprise Offices, the IDA, the NWRA and the Western Development Commission (WDC).

Mr Gaynor says, “They are all working together for the good of the region. Collaboration is key. Indeed, this forum would not have happened without the support of IT Sligo, Sligo Chamber of Commerce, supporting bodies like the NWRA and businesses in the region. Everyone working together will see the region develop and create the right environment for SMEs to succeed.

“There are 45,000 SMEs in the North West region, with more than 90pc of these micro entities, and creating an environment for them to succeed is something I am passionate about.

“Growing up in a family business gave me a great love of enterprise and is one of the main reasons I choose a career in accounting. I believe accountants can make a substantial difference by helping small business owners to focus closely on the operational performance, manage risk and have a clear strategic focus for the long term.”

John Gaynor says that during his year as ACCA Ireland Chairman, he travelled a lot.

“This has highlighted to me the importance of a good road network and fast broadband. Investment in the region will ensure that the IDA will attract more FDI and provide much needed employment.

“I would like to see more jobs in the region so that our graduates can stay. Many of these graduates could start their own businesses and provide further employment.”

He says there are many reasons for the region to be optimistic including the fact that it has been named European Entrepreneurial Region for 2018 and the recent launch by the Government of Project Ireland 2040 in Sligo was also a vote of confidence in the North West.

“It was great to hear plans to upgrade our roads, provide high-speed broadband, develop our hospital, and provide the region with a Technological University and more,” says Mr Gaynor, who has been an ACCA member for 28 years and was elected ACCA Ireland Chairman in March 2017.

“It was an honour to represent our 12,000 members and 11,000 students in Ireland and I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting members and students at many events throughout the country. I saw my primary role as Ireland Chairman as an advocate for ACCA and the accounting profession. In a fast-changing business environment, I want to highlight the invaluable role of a finance professional.”

'Highly regarded'

Speaking ahead of the event, IT Sligo President Dr Brendan McCormack says, “IT Sligo has delivered accounting programmes for over forty years and enjoys a long-standing strong relationship with the professional accounting bodies. Our BA Honours degree in Accounting is highly regarded and qualifies for maximum exemptions from ACCA and ACA. Many of our graduates have found employment in  leading national and international firms. It is an honour for IT Sligo to be associated with this high-profile event and I am delighted to be able to deliver the opening address”

Sligo Chamber of Commerce President Fiona Candon says, “The forum is putting a spotlight on Sligo in front of an international and national business audience, leading the way for the potential for us to host lots more events of this kind. This is a positive message for Sligo and focuses a new audience on truly affirming Sligo as a centre for business growth and development and as a holiday and business tourism destination.”