An evening with the Sligo Business Network in London

On Thursday 5th March, the Sligo Business Network in London hosted an evening gathering of Sligo people based in London to share contacts and stories. The Chamber President, David Kiely and I represented the Chamber, whilst Sligo County Council was represented by the CEO, Ciarán Hayes and IT Sligo was represented by its President, Dr Vincent Cunnane and Gordon Ryan.
There were about 90 people in attendance, who listened to a series of brief presentations from both sides of the Irish Sea. David Raethorne spoke about his ambition for his recently acquired Hazelwood House and Demesne, Senator Susan O’Keeffe spoke about Yeats2015, Ambassador Dan Mulhall spoke about the role of the Irish Embassy in London and Dr Vincent Cunnane updated the group on IT Sligo’s plans for Sligo to become a University town.
The real magic of the evening however was in the informal conversations with a wide group of people who all share a connection of place. There were people there who had been in London since the ‘50s and there were recent graduates there, starting out on their career journey. There were people there because of individual choice and others because of economic necessity.
Leaving London on the Friday morning, I was struck by how complex any meaningful Diaspora engagement should be. Whilst Diaspora engagement offers us opportunities for inward investment, it also offers us challenges that we must acknowledge. Do we really care for our Diaspora in a meaningful way and if we do how does that manifest itself?
For the next event, I’d love to be part of a bigger Sligo group of business people who are interested in engaging with our fellow County men and women in London. Whilst this trip may ultimately lead to reciprocal business opportunities, more importantly, it might be the first step in saying that we really care.