This year has been another extremely busy year for the Chamber. On 22 January we had an Energy Roundtable in London, kindly hosted by Eversheds Sutherland and a Finance and Professional Services Roundtable which was kindly hosted by BNP Paribas. That evening we held our Council Meeting at the House of Commons which was kindly hosted by Stephen Hammond MP and generously sponsored by Chamber Members Greenlink and Mason Hayes & Curran. As well as our Council Members we were also delighted to have Claire Hanna MP, Karin Smyth MP and Martin Docherty-Hughes MP join us.

On 12 February we held our Members’ Day in the Mansion House, Dublin, kindly hosted by the then Lord Mayor of Dublin Paul McAuliffe. This was attended by over 25 of our new Members and was a great opportunity for networking with some of our more established Members.

Unbeknown to us Monday 17 February was to be our last in-person event for the foreseeable future. This was a roundtable event, organised in partnership with the Department for International Trade, with guest speaker Michael Carlton, Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer at the Department. Bord Gáis kindly hosted the event.

And then came Covid-19. In March 2020 each one of us had to get used to a new way of doing things – by working remotely and hosting online events.

We were very disappointed to have to postpone our two major in-person events, our Annual Networking Dinner in March and our Gala Dinner in September along with our other scheduled in-person events. However, I am delighted to say that the team transitioned seamlessly to the new online way of working and up until 11 December we have held over 35 high quality online events to meet the needs of our members and key stakeholders.

Throughout 2020 we have held a series of ‘In Conversation Events’ with guest speakers including Deputy Neale Richmond TD; Minister Helen McEntee TD; Ambassador Robin Barnett; Minister Paschal Donohoe TD; David McAllister MEP; Brandon Lewis MP; Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP; Minister Thomas Byrne TD; Catherine McGuinness (City of London); and Dermot Nolan (formerly of Ofgem).

On 25 March we held the first of our Future Relationships Fora, where Timothy Hayes, Political Officer for the European Commission’s office in Dublin gave a briefing on the ‘Draft text of the Agreement on the New Partnership with the United Kingdom’. Our second Forum was held in September where Paul Lynam, the Chamber’s Director of Policy, gave an update on Brexit developments.

Keeping with the Brexit preparations theme, on 3 April we were delighted to have Carol Lynch, BDO; Aidan Flynn, FTAI; Paul Garland, Revenue Commissioners; and Brian McEnergy, BDO as guest speakers at our ‘Keeping Business Moving’ event.

On 7 May we hosted the Rt. Hon. Hilary Benn MP, kindly moderated by Michael Jackson of Matheson, our partner for this event, for a discussion on the ‘Future Relationship with the European Union’.

Our Offshore Wind Development in the Irish Sea event was also held in May. This event brought together key stakeholders from Offshore Wind from the UK and Ireland to discuss what lessons Ireland could learn from the experiences of the UK and others. The event also explored what steps Ireland should take to ensure it reaches its potential for Offshore Wind capacity such as changes to its maritime planning laws, regulatory framework or market enablers. The first panel discussion was moderated by Mark Varian, Chair of the Chamber’s Energy & Environment Committee and Partner with Eversheds Sutherland. His guests were Dr. Carolyn Heeps, Head of Offshore Wind at Fred Olsen Renewables; Bill Scott, CEO, Wilton Engineering; and Bruce Clements, Offshore Wind Specialist, Renewable Team, Department for International Trade. The second panel, which was moderated by Louise Glennon, Public Affairs Manager at SSE Renewables, featured guest panellists Garrett Connell, Project Manager, Oriel Wind Farm; Martin Finucane, Principal Officer, International and Offshore Energy, Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment; and Kevin O’Donovan, Managing Director, Statkraft Ireland. Barry Kilcline, Director of Development at SSE Renewables was a guest speaker at the event.

In July we were delighted to have Margaret Whitby, Head of Stakeholder Engagement, Border Protocol Delivery Group give a briefing to our Members.

In September we held two online Trade Missions with our partner organisation kmend. The first of these was with Made in Sheffield with participation by the Department for International Trade; Enterprise Ireland; University of Limerick – CONFIRM; AMRC; International Trade Forum and Enterprise Europe Network. The second Trade Mission was with the North East England Chamber of Commerce, again with participation by the Department for International Trade; Enterprise Ireland; and kmend along with Invest Newcastle and VRAI.

On 1 October we held our ‘Developing a Pathway to a Sustainable Future’ event. This was generously sponsored by Ulster Bank and featured an online gathering of guest speakers and panellists which included Noel Regan, Principal Officer at National Climate Policy; Mark Varian, Chair of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce Energy & Environment Committee and Partner at Eversheds Sutherland; Karen Doyle, Energy, Infrastructure and Sustainability, Ulster Bank; Gill Higgins, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability, Dawn Meats; Rosheen McGuckian, Chief Executive Officer, NTR; and Jaishree Nagarajan, Climate Change and Just Transition Team, NatWest Bank.

Later in October, we were delighted to partner with LK Shields LLP, to host an online event ‘Services: The Forgotten Child of Brexit’. The panellists included Professor Sarah Hall, University of Nottingham, author of the Services and Brexit Paper for Britain in a Changing Europe; Jeanne Kelly, Partner, Intellectual Property, Technology and Privacy, LK Shields LLP; Conor Lawlor, Director Brexit, Capital markets and Wholesale, UK Finance; John McGrane, Director General, British Irish Chamber of Commerce; and Neil Ross, Brexit Lead at techUK.

On 27 October we welcomed guests from the Irish Venture Capital Association; Grant Thornton; the National Treasury Management Agency; Instinctif Partners; Morgan McKinley; the Labour Market Advisory Council; the Irish Universities Association; and the European Investment Bank, Dublin, who took part in a discussion on ‘Planning for Life after Brexit and Covid-19: The Future of the Economy’.

On 16 November we were delighted to have Minister Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, as our Guest Speaker for our ‘Deal or No Deal: We’ve Always Traded and We Always Will’ event. This event, which was generously sponsored by Ulster Bank, was also addressed by Paul Johnston, the British Ambassador to Ireland and Eddie Cullen, Managing Director, Commercial Banking at Ulster Bank. The panel discussion, which was moderated by Dan Pender of 360, included guests Simon Barry, Chief Economist Republic of Ireland, Ulster Bank; John Goodwin, Finance Director Shop Direct Ireland Ltd (t/a Littlewoods Ireland Ltd); Paul Lynam, Director of Policy, British Irish Chamber of Commerce; Shirley McCay, Ireland Director UK at the Department for International Trade; and Julie Sinnamon, CEO, Enterprise Ireland.

On December 10 and 11 we were delighted to partner with the British Embassy, Dublin and the Department for International Trade for an Offshore Wind Event Series – Energising the Future. The events included panel discussions on Shared Ambitions on Energy Transition, Offshore Wind Opportunities in Ireland (Meet the Developers) and Floating Offshore Technology. Keynote speakers included Minister Graham Stuart MP, Minister Eamon Ryan TD and Ambassador Paul Johnston. Other guest speakers and panellists over the two-day events included Zoe Barnes, Everoze Partners; Andy Macdonald, Offshore Wind Growth Partnership; Ross McNally, Irish Wind Energy Association; Paul O’Brien, DeepWind Cluster; Helen Donovan, Welsh Government; Andrew Keane, UCD Energy Institute; Louise Smith, Aura Project, University of Hull; Gary Connolly, ESB Asset Development; Barry Kilcline, SSE Renewables; Peter Lefroy, RWE Renewables; Eoin McPartland, Energia; Cian Conroy, Principle Power; Steve Jermy, Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership; Jimmy Murphy, SFI MaREI Centre; Martin Murphy, Marine Energy Wales; Vikram Pakrashi, UCD Energy Institute; and Val Cummins, Simply Blue Energy.

This is a snapshot of some of the events held during 2020. For 2020 preparations are already well underway for Chamber events including events for Higher Education and Research, Infrastructure and Energy & Environment. We will also have our sectoral committee meetings.
Thank you – to all our sponsors, our hosts, our keynote and guest speakers, our moderators and panellists, thank you for your generosity in contributing to make our events in 2020 such a success.

Catherine Coffey
Senior Executive Manager Events