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Futureproof Northwest to grow Dublin diaspora network

09 February 2018

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District has joined Irish government officials in supporting a new cross-border business network geared towards building links between the North West and Dublin.

Led by Sean Downey, a Derry native now based in Dublin, Futureproof Northwest will drive engagement in a number of key areas including sport, heritage and culture as well as promoting opportunities for business and enterprise. The initiative launched this week in Dublin, with an opening address from the Minister of State for European Affairs, Helen McEntee, TD.

During her address Minister McEntee stressed the importance of connectivity as an island nation and reaffirmed the Irish Government’s commitment to communicating with its citizens as Europe develops. She praised the work of community led initiatives such as Futureproof Northwest and highlighted the value of the initiative in addressing any future challenges posed by leaving the EU in strengthening cross-border connections and bringing people with common interests together.

The group aims to provide opportunities for those who have left the Northwest and help to generate positive change for those still based in the region.

Speaking after the launch the Mayor, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh, said the Futureproof Northwest group could play an important role in strengthening connectivity and communication between North and South, particularly in the face of Brexit.

And he said he looked forward to seeing the network grow over the next few years, linking people from Derry, Tyrone, and the Northwest of Ireland who are primarily based in Dublin. “I would like to acknowledge the work being done by the Futureproof Northwest group in building meaningful relationships which will be of mutual benefit to both the diaspora community living in Dublin and local organisations,” he said.

“Their efforts tie in with the growing focus on cross-border working which Derry City and Strabane District Council has been driving in recent months together with our partners in Donegal County Council. Through our Gateway to Growth Strategy we have been strengthening our regional proposition and this will further benefit from fostering positive links with the talent we have exported to Dublin over the years.

“I am delighted to see the ongoing passion and support of those involved who, though they have left the North West, are still champions for the region and committed to its growth and development.”

Speaking at the launch event, founding member of Futureproof Northwest, Sean Downey, outlined the programme of engagement activities for the year.  “These events will provide local businesses with an opportunity to showcase their organisations and a platform for engagement on a range of key issues,” he told those attending. “I am delighted to have the support of Derry and Strabane Council in growing this network, which is dedicated to the ongoing promotion of the North West through its members and their work.”

Managing Director of local cross-border engineering and construction company AE Global, Kieran Connor, said the network would provide a fantastic opportunity for local companies to establish strong working relations with their counterparts in Dublin. “I am delighted to see the official launch of the Futureproof Northwest network, which will be an asset for companies like our own who operate in a cross-jurisdictional capacity.

“While it’s essential for us to look to other markets in the US and the Far East, we have a wealth of talent and experience right on our own doorstep, and it only makes sense that we pool our interests and resources to maximise the potential we have to offer across the island of Ireland North and South. Partnership is key to the success of our economy.”

Local singer-songwriter Gemma Bradley was also announced as a Futureproof Northwest cultural ambassador at the event which was attended by representatives from Visit Derry, with the aim to strengthen both cultural and tourism connections to the North West.

Further information on Futureproof Northwest can be found on the association’s website www.futureproofnorthwest.com.