By Daniel Hunter

Speaking at the CBI Northern Ireland annual dinner, the business lobby group's director general John Cridland called on the region’s medium-sized businesses (MSBs), which generate more than £16 billion and employ 15% of the total workforce, to “stand up and be counted”.

Mr Cridland said that, while MSBs must work hard to demonstrate their potential, the government has a large role to play in giving them greater confidence and support. He also called for a radical public service reform agenda in Stormont, creating flexible and sustainable public services for the 21st century.

As the first of the CBI’s regions to celebrate the CBI’s 50th anniversary at its annual gala event, CBI Northern Ireland hosted the Taoiseach of the Irish Republic, Enda Kenny TD.

The CBI director general noted that the past 50 years have seen Northern Ireland live through many of its most historic highs and lows and the dinner represented the opportunity to reflect on the positivity of the business voice throughout the years of the Troubles, through the Good Friday Agreement and into the settled devolved institutions that we have in place today.

The presence of the Taoiseach was welcomed given the need to foster further positive links with the Irish Republic — with business itself taking a leading role in this in our long-standing relationship with our sister organisation the Irish Business and Employers’ Confederation (Ibec).

With a number of other Northern Irish political figures also in the room, the evening provided the opportunity to detail business’ priorities for the first 100 days of the next UK Government as well as looking ahead to the Northern Ireland Assembly election in a year’s time.