President’s Blog – To the Waters and the Wild

Hello Members,

we have had a very positive response to the first blog of the year last week. Thanks to all for the encouraging messages of support. I can’t guarantee that every week will be as active and news-worthy as the one just past. That said, here goes for week 2.

Tourism is one of the cornerstones of the Sligo Chamber Vision. Our Vision is that by 2040, Sligo and the Northwest region’s phenomenal array of adventure, culture and food experiences will attract 2 million visitors annually to the Wild Atlantic Way’s outstanding Northwest coastline. In Sligo alone, outdoor walking adventure is a real attraction from the Creevykeel court tombs and Carrowkeel Mesolithic cemetery archaeological sites to the tracks and trails in the Ox mountains, hikes up the iconic Benbulben, trails from Collooney to Dromahaire and around Lough Gill including Slish Wood and Hazelwood.

It was with thoughts of our tourism attraction in mind that I headed off last Sunday morning to hike up Knocknarea, taking the new trail around the landward side of the mountain arriving at the flat top cairn before descending back to Dolly’s Cottage by the carefully constructed wooden steps. What an experience, what views, with the panorama of Ballisodare Bay being particularly striking for me, a vista that I would not at all be accustomed to. And the change in temperatures, from the warmth of the sheltered side in the trees to the biting cold when exposed to the gusting winds walking through the cloud line not being able to see the cairn until actually arriving at its base. The soothing warmth of the booth at the Knocknarea carpark, open every Sunday morning, had more than enough coffee and crepes to fortify the weary hiker.

It was back to business Monday night as I prepared for my first Chamber Council Meeting as President the following morning. Council Meetings start at 8 a.m. sharp, generally on the third Tuesday of each month. Ever conscious of the working demands of our Council members, the aim is to progress meetings efficiently to be complete by 9.15 a.m. latest, to allow members get to their place of work. On Tuesday, we welcomed Eamon Mc Gauran as a member of the Chamber Council, having seconded Eamon to the Team. He has been actively participating for the past two years in David Kiely’s Industry Group and we are delighted to have him on board.

The Communications Team led by Past President Fiona Candon is preparing “An Overview of Sligo Chamber” presentation pack outlining what Sligo Chamber does and how we advocate, communicate and educate, all the time seeking to deliver in a positive manner for Sligo. Fiona guided us through the draft presentation slides at the meeting and the theme follows the format of our “Life is Sligo” video. We look forward to delivering the presentation to members at a lunch in the near future.

Not at all taking a rest following her Presidency, on Wednesday, Fiona attended the Annual Dinner of Chambers Ireland, of which she is a board member. The Dinner was hosted in Government Buildings by Marc Mac Sharry, T.D., and attended by several other T.D.s and Senators. Fiona got the opportunity to catch up with Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohue T.D., who members will recall was guest speaker at her Presidents Dinner. With the date of the European Elections set for May 24, 2019, Fiona advises us that Chambers Ireland have prepared a Manifesto outlining the business issues they are calling on the candidates for the Parliament elections to address. Three of the key take aways for me in the Manifesto are:

1. Continued Financial Support to be available from the European Investment Bank to support the National Development Plan and Project Ireland 2040.
2. Maintain the status quo of unanimity on taxation, (i.e. retain Ireland’s 12.5% corporate tax rate).
3. Prioritise “Think Small First” principle across all new regulations so that red tape for SMEs is minimised.

We will seek to have a link on our website to the complete Chambers Ireland Manifesto for those who may be interested to have a read.

IT Sligo held a Careers Job Fair at the Ballinode campus on Wednesday. It was particularly well attended, with stands taken by companies and education bodies from all around the country. Sligo Chamber was represented at the Job Fair by our Skillnet Manager, Geraldine Courtney. Geraldine took a stand to promote the educational programmes Sligo Chamber Skillnet can offer businesses in the region, and it was great to hear her on the IT Sligo Facebook site being interviewed and talking about the Sligo Skillnet offering.

So that is it for another week, and remember

Life is for living – Life is Sligo.

Conor McCarthy
President Sligo Chamber