A high-powered meeting in London has heard that bold new thinking is immediately required if we are to truly fulfil Northern Ireland’s potential. The London group of the Integrated Education Alumni Association organised a public seminar at the Deloitte headquarters on 19th February where educational and economic experts discussed the type of education system Northern Ireland needs to deliver long-term economic stability and prosperity.

The high-profile guests provided expert analysis informed by both their experiences and their expectations. Nearly 100 people, most originally from Northern Ireland, attended the event. Discussions revealed support among the audience for bold steps to reform the education system which would benefit Northern Ireland’s economy and promote social cohesion.

The event was held in partnership with the Integrated Education Fund and the platform party comprised Julie Mercer and Euan Isles from Deloitte; former Trade Minister Sir Richard Needham; and Mary McKenna MBE, the angel investor well-known in London Irish circles. Proceedings were chaired by the prominent Northern Ireland businessman Ian Doherty, who is Managing Director of James Doherty Meats in Derry/Londonderry. The seminar was sponsored by Invest NI, and was also addressed by Karena Vaughan, Invest NI’s Regional Director for Europe and Russia.

The Alumni Association’s London Chair Treasa Harkin said:

“Our goal in hosting this seminar was to promote progressive and innovative thinking to lead us to the sort of inclusive society and strong economy that the people of Northern Ireland want. We are delighted by the quality of engagement we’ve seen here this evening.

“Countless other young adults who are, like us, currently living, studying or working in London passionately want to see Northern Ireland prosper. Most of us will, at some point, want to return home, and we will want to work in a thriving economy and live in a forward-looking society which is as ambitious as it is inclusive. This seminar was all about mapping out a path to the fulfilment of those goals.

“The Alumni Association will continue to promote our positive vision for education in Northern Ireland as a key catalyst for economic growth, reconciliation and inclusion. We believe integrated schools best prepare young people for the modern world. An integrated education equips our young people with a high-quality, tailored school experience that maximises their skill sets and enables them to succeed in their future career.”

The IEAA’s activity will continue with further seminars in different locations, and the group will be engaging with politicians in Northern Ireland to share ideas arising from the sessions which can lead to real and meaningful change.

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