We use cookies to give you the best possible experience on our site. By continuing to use the site you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more.


Annual Conference 2017

Global Business, Irish Economy 





Pat Leahy, Deputy Political Editor, The Irish Times. 

A frequent contributor to radio and television debates, Pat is the author of two bestselling books on Irish politics, Showtime (2009) and the Price of Power (2013). He has also made a number of documentaries for RTE television, including Crisis, an account of the 2007-2011 Fianna Fail-Green government, and Independents' Day, on the rise of independents and small parties in the last Dail. He has a degree in law from UCD and is a former Reuters fellow at Oxford University. He was previously the deputy editor and political editor of The Sunday Business Post.

Mark Durkan MP

In 1984 Mark began working for John Hume as his Westminster Assistant. He subsequently became a key figure in the party, organising MP election victories for Seamus Mallon and Eddie McGrady in 1986 and 1987.

In 1990 Mark became Chairperson of the SDLP, serving until 1995, and was elected to Derry City Council in 1993 . He was a key member of the SDLP team during the negotiations leading to the Good Friday Agreement and was described by journalists as its chief draftsman.

After leading a resoundingly successful yes campaign for the SDLP, Mark was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998 for Foyle. He was appointed to the Northern Ireland Executive as Minister for Finance and Personnel. 

In 2001 Mark replaced Seamus Mallon as Deputy First Minister. He also succeeded John Hume as SDLP Leader. Mark has represented Derrys interests with distinction as the MP for Foyle since 2005. 

Mark stood down as party leader in February 2010 to be replaced by Margaret Ritchie. In November 2010 Mark resigned from the Northern Ireland Assembly to concentrate on his role as MP for Foyle.

John McGrane, Director General of The British Irish Chamber of Commerce

John is a retired financial services professional having completed a 40 year career with the Royal Bank of Scotland / Ulster Bank Group in Ireland.

His career has spanned substantial initiatives in the enterprise and corporate sectors, both indigenous and foreign direct investment.

He is Founder of NSI Technology, a tech start-up which helps Not For Profits become Not For Losses. He is a Board Director at Dublin Chamber of Commerce and at The British Irish Chamber of Commerce and a number of charities.

He retains active roles in the Cultural, Tourism and Trade Development sectors, having served on a number of related Boards and Government Taskforces.

Andrew McCormick, Permanent Secretary, Department for the Economy

Andrew has worked in the Northern Ireland Civil Service since 1980, mainly in the Department of Finance & Personnel. He was Finance Director (SCS) in the NI Department of Education from 1993 to 1998. 

He was previously Permanent Secretary of Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment from 1 July 2014.  Before that he was Permanent Secretary of Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, and Chief Executive of Health and Social Care for nine years, and before that, Second Permanent Secretary, NI Department of Finance and Personnel from May 2002.

Andrew read Geology at University College, Oxford, graduating in 1978 and went on to achieve a PhD in Geochemistry from Queen’s University in 1989.

Damien McDonald, Director General, Irish Farmers Association 

Damian McDonald was appointed Director General of the IFA in November 2016 and took up his position earlier this year. Previous to that he was CEO of Horse Sport Ireland, the Governing Body for the sport horse sector in Ireland and from 2001 – 2007 Damien was CEO of Macra na Feirme.

He previously worked for the IFA from 1999 to 2001 in the position of Livestock Services Manager where he worked in the areas of Direct Payments and Animal Health.

During his previous roles in the IFA and Macra na Feirme, Damian McDonald represented farmers on various bodies including the National Economic and Social Council (NESC), the Milk Quota Review Group and the CAP Rural Development Monitoring Group.

He has previously served as a member of the Aquaculture Licences Appeals Board and the Governing Body of the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT). He is currently a member of Sport Ireland’s (Irish Sports Council’s) anti-doping disciplinary panel.

Kevin Toland, Chief Executive, daa

Kevin Toland has been Chief Executive of daa since January 2013.

He was CEO and President of Glanbia USA & Global Nutritionals in the US from 2005-2012 and prior to that held a number of other senior roles with Glanbia in Ireland. He has also worked with Coca-Cola Bottlers in Russia and with Grand Metropolitan in Ireland and Central Europe.

He is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Management Accountants and holds a Diploma in Applied Finance from the Irish Management Institute. He is a Director of ACI Europe and the Irish business group IBEC and a non-executive director and member of the Board of Total Produce

Eugene Kiernan, Head of Investment Strategy, Appian Asset Management

ugene joined Appian in April 2014 with over 30 years experience in the Asset Management industry. Most recently he was Head of Investment Solutions for AIB Investment Managers have successfully managed the Multi-manager range of funds since 2006. 

Prior to this he was with Irish Life where he was Head of Asset Allocation having previously been Head of International Equities and having worked in a variety of areas including stock selection and portfolio management. Many of the funds managed were internationally recognised award winners He also served as a director of an Emerging Markets equity fund. 

Eugene holds a MA in economics from UCD and a Certified Diploma in Accounting and Finance. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Securities Institute.

Marie Bourke, Head of the National Competitiveness Council 

Marie Bourke is Principal Officer, Strategic Policy Division, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.  She is responsible for the Competitiveness, Economic Analysis & Enterprise Surveys Unit and provides the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) with research, analysis and secretariat support.

From 2008 to 2015, Marie was a member of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) and as Head of the Group’s Secretariat Marie was responsible for the overall management of the research and analysis for the group. Marie was previously a member of the Executive Committee in Forfás responsible for the overall running of the organisation and its policy research.

Prior to this Marie worked with IDA Ireland as a marketing executive for the promotion of foreign direct investment including the International Financial Services Sector.

Marie was formerly on the NQAI Authority, its audit committee and for the last two years was a member of Quality and Qualifications Ireland’s Standards and Policy Committee.