Chamber News

RLP 2018 launchWaterford Chamber has been shortlisted for two national Chambers Ireland awards for the Regional Leaders Programme and Toys4Engineers Conference & Expo.

Returning for the first time in 10 years, the awards seek to recognise the outstanding work of Chambers around the country. They are a chance for Chambers to showcase their achievements in a variety of categories, from innovative projects to successful events to collaborations with local and national government.

Under the Event of the Year Category, Waterford Chamber was selected for its work on Toys4Engineers Conference & Expo, while the Regional Leaders Programme was given the nod for the Most Innovative Project.

Speaking ahead of the official awards ceremony on 10th April, Waterford Chamber CEO Gerald Hurley said it was testament to the hard work of the Chamber team and their collaborative partners that Waterford Chamber featured so strongly.

“Our team here in Chamber is small but dynamic – they are creative, hard-working and ultimately want to do what they can to support the business community. Both the Regional Leaders Programme and Toys4Engineers epitomise what regional collaboration can achieve, and we are very grateful to be working with important stakeholders such as Bausch + Lomb, Waterford Institute of Technology and Waterford Chamber Skillnet, among others, to bring these offerings to our members and the wider region.

“Whether it is our 35 mentors and 70 Regional Leaders Programme participants or 80 exhibitors at Toys4Engineers, it shows that by working together and getting the message eight, Waterford as the Capital of the South East region is showcasing its commitment to being the driver of the region and we are grateful that everyone’s participation in that is being recognised through these national awards.”

The shortlist features projects from 21 Chambers, exemplifying the wide-ranging work being done around the country.

The Chamber Awards winners will be announced at the official awards ceremony on 10th April at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Northwood, Santry. Awards will be presented for excellence in five different categories and one Chamber will be awarded the overall award of Chamber of the Year 2019.

RLP Lunch Michael Doherty

"Inspiring", "honest", "fascinating" are just a small selection of the descriptions that flooded social media following Conor McCarthy’s lunchtime talk as part of the Waterford Chamber Regional Leaders Programme.

Described by Chamber CEO Gerald Hurley as a “true friend of Waterford and Waterford Chamber”, Conor, a native of Dublin, has holidayed in Dunmore East for the past 25 years and was a mentor on the inaugural Regional Leaders Programme.

Returning as a guest speaker for the second programme, Conor spoke to the mentors and programme participants on being “An Accidental Entrepreneur”, with a refreshing honesty and transparency that allowed the audience to walk away with an understanding of the true meaning of an entrepreneur.

According to Conor, “The term entrepreneur is a misnomer as it refers to an individual, whilst there is no such thing as an entrepreneur who did it all on their own - it’s about a team effort and team building. An entrepreneur is someone who no longer can or wants to work for someone else. However, if you chase the money, you might not ever reach the goal. Money is not a goal. Use your knowledge and experience – don’t plan on success in an area you have never worked in.”

Offering sound advice, Conor said the key to success is “adapt, adapt, adapt”. That coupled with his mantras of “Discover the supremacy of sales” and “Never say die – find a way”, you can see why Conor is considered one of Ireland’s most successful Executives.

Co-founder of AirAsia and current Executive Chairman of Dublin Aerospace, Conor has been in the aviation business for 41 years, having started on an apprenticeship with Aer Lingus.  He was appointed CEO of Aer Lingus Commuter in 1991 until he left to become Director of Group Operations at Ryanair in 1996.

In 2000 he established his own consultancy firm ‘Plane Consult’ which specialises in Low Costs and Start-Up airlines. In 2001 he joined Air Asia and is credited with transforming the airline into the most successful Low Cost Carrier in the region.

When SR Technics closed in Dublin in 2009, Conor spotted an opportunity and established Dublin Aerospace where he remains as Executive Chairman. He was awarded EY Irish Entrepreneur of the Year (2011) for the success of Dublin Aerospace, which recently announced the recruitment of another 150 aerospace professionals.

And he shows no signs of stopping or slowing down. As he says himself, “Keep planning because once you print it, it’s out of date.”

The third Regional Leaders Programme is now open for expressions of interests and will commence in September. Again, with the support of Waterford Chamber Skillnet, Bausch + Lomb and Waterford Institute of Technology and over 40 of Waterford’s key business people as mentors, the programme is leading the way in supporting the business community in terms of leadership, succession planning and sustainable growth.

Commenting on the programme Waterford Chamber CEO Gerald Hurley said: “Getting access to people of Conor’s calibre, makes the Regional Leaders Programme a must for anybody looking to grow their business or for individuals who are determined to enhance their career prospects. The programme enjoyed a 40% growth from year one to two and we envisage further growth this year, if early expressions of interest are anything to go by. From the one to one mentoring sessions, to group sessions, speaker lunches and networking opportunities, the Regional Leaders Programme is a cost effective way for business owners to maximise the potential of their internal talent pool and cement the future of their leaders.”

To register your interest in the next Regional Leaders Programme, please contact Kelly Cummins on 051 872639 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Chamber CSR Awards 2019 LaunchChambers Ireland today (4th March 2019) launched the Corporate Social Responsibility Awards 2019 at St. Stephen’s Green. The CSR Awards offer the business community a chance to promote and highlight the best practice CSR activities taking place in companies of all sizes across Ireland. The Awards showcase projects that help to improve the workplace for the benefit of all employees; that engage with and help to improve the communities in which business operate and that are environmentally responsible.

Ian Talbot, Chief Executive of Chambers Ireland, spoke at the launch, “We’re thrilled to launch the sixteenth edition of our annual CSR Awards. Businesses’ understanding of the importance of CSR initiatives continues to grow, yet it can’t be emphasized enough that these initiatives must be put into practice among businesses from across the board to demonstrate what can be achieved.

Making progress in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is an objective not only of government, but also of the business community, and we’ve seen in recent years how companies have used the SDGs as a guiding light in designing new CSR projects and initiatives.

To ensure that their importance is properly reflected in our awards, this year we have given greater prominence to the SDGs on the awards voting schedule by including marks for showing engagement with the objectives of the Goals in the voting criteria for each award category.

CSR’s impact will resonate more if modern, successful examples of CSR initiatives can be pointed to for businesses of different sizes to see. With today’s launch, we invite applicants to ‘spring’ into their applications and showcase what new CSR ideas they can bring to the table.”

Siobhan Kinsella, Chambers Ireland President, said, “The importance of the support, promotion and practice of CSR is becoming much more magnified not just in a business context but also in a wider social context, particularly with the increased public urgency surrounding the topic of climate change. It’s crucial that Irish businesses of all sizes continue to play a vital and visible role in engaging with the issues of the day. At this moment businesses across Ireland have a real opportunity to support the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals and sustainable CSR initiatives are the perfect instrument to do so.”

Theo Cullinane, BAM Ireland Chief Executive said, “This is the eighth year that we have been the main sponsor of Chambers Ireland CSR Awards and as always, we are honoured to be involved in celebrating the CSR achievements of the Irish business community. The CSR Awards continue to grow from strength-to-strength and it is great to see more businesses incorporating CSR into their everyday working practice.

At BAM, CSR and sustainability are at the heart of our operations. Our ‘Enhancing Lives’ programme is a commitment to enhancing the lives of one million people by 2020 through employment, education, training and charity engagement projects.

This year, as part of BAM’s 150th anniversary celebrations, we are planting 150,000 trees in different parts of the world; 50,000 in Africa, 50,000 in South America and 50,000 in Europe. In February over 100 BAM colleagues and their families helped NGO ‘Trees on the Land’ plant 9,00 trees in Ireland. The CSR Awards celebrate the best of business and community partnerships and I encourage businesses to enter and showcase their hard work in building a better Ireland for all.”

Michael Ring TD, the Minister for Rural and Community Development commented, “The Department of Rural and Community Development is delighted to support the Corporate Social Responsibility Awards.

Initiatives such as the CSR Awards help to create a climate which enables business, Government, NGOs, community, charity and voluntary organisations to work together on common causes for the greater good.

The role of bodies like Chambers Ireland and Business in the Community in promoting and supporting Corporate Social Responsibility deserves to be acknowledged. In taking this approach they are supporting their local communities and delivering benefit for wider society.”

The launch of the sixteenth annual CSR Awards took place at St. Stephen’s Green.

Lidl Ireland were the winners of the 2018 Outstanding Achievement in CSR Award for the commitment to CSR practices that are embedded at the company’s core and for the organisation’s ongoing dedication to community engagement.

The awards are sponsored by BAM Ireland and run in association with the Department of Rural and Community Development.

The applications are now open online at

The closing date for nominations is Monday, 1st of April 2019.

City Regions Conference March 2019

The Minster for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy TD, Anne Graham, CEO of the National Transport Authority and John Moran, Chair of the Land Development Agency will be among the speakers at a major conference on urban development at the inaugural City Regions Ireland event, scheduled to take place at NUI Galway on 28th March next.

The conference is being organised under the umbrella of City Regions Ireland, an association of the Chambers of Commerce in Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Waterford, which was launched last November in Custom House.

The half-day conference, entitled ‘Ireland’s Cities – Powerhouses of Regional Growth’, will explore how Ireland’s five cities can fulfil the goals of economic development for their regions set out in the National Planning Framework (NPF) and Project Ireland 2040.

Dave Hickey, President of Galway Chamber commented on the upcoming conference;

The objective of the conference is to tease out the implications of the NPF for all of our cities and understand what it means in terms of housing, transport, commercial development and leisure for each urban area.

The Regional Assemblies have drafted Metropolitan Area Strategic Plans for each of the expanded ‘City Regions’ for the 12 years to 2031. The aim of this event is to better inform the debate around these MASPs so that the City Regions can deliver on the NPF objectives individually and collectively. In his keynote address, Minister Murphy will outline the role of the five Metropolitan Areas in driving regional growth.

Anne Graham of the NTA will look at some of the issues and opportunities presented by transport within and between the urban areas as well as international access whichwill be critical to the sustainability and growth of the economy over the next 12 years, while John Moran, Chair of thenewly-established Land Development Agency will address how we use our existing urban footprints better.

Aebhric McGibney, City Regions Ireland spokesperson said; “Each of the City Regions face common challenges such as increasing housing supply, improving transport and city-centre regeneration. However, the specific obstacles for each city are different, so the conference will not only look at the national issues facing our cities, but also how solutions can then be applied on an individual basis for an urban region.”

Dr Patrick Collins of the Department of Geography at NUI Galway, also speaking at the conference, will examine some of the implications of the NPF and MASP for Galway.

Ireland’s Cities – Powerhouses of Regional Growth takes place on Thursday 28th March 2019 at the ILAS Building, NUI Galway, with registration from 8.30am.

More details and additional speakers will be announced over the coming weeks.

Bookings can be made at where you can also find out further details.

Chambers for Europe - election an opportunity for Ireland to ensure its place at heart of EU

Ahead of the European Parliament elections taking place this May, Chambers Ireland and a delegation of representatives from around the Irish Chamber Network today (20th February 2019) launches its “Chambers for Europe” manifesto in Brussels.

Speaking at the European Parliament this morning, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot calls on businesses and their employees to proactively engage with election candidates and highlight their priority concerns ahead of the upcoming election.

"Despite collective acknowledgement of the positive role that EU membership continues to play for Ireland, in terms of both peace and economic prosperity, the European elections are often overlooked by voters. With the impending exit of the UK from the EU, Ireland needs to take its relationship with the European Union even more seriously.

“Within our Manifesto, we are calling on candidates for the Parliament elections to prioritise the following issues: investment in our cities and regions, an ambitious international trade agenda, a competitive and global approach to tax reform, a fully-connected digital Europe that supports innovation and a business-friendly framework for a sustainable circular economy.”

Chambers across Europe, and across Ireland, are working to ensure all candidates have a clear understanding of the business community’s priorities. The economic relationship we share with the EU, both in terms of the Single Market and our relationship with its institutions, has become even more valuable in light of the ongoing Brexit negotiations.

The launch of our manifesto this morning follows the announcement of a Pre-Election Partnership between our partner Eurochambres and the European Parliament to drive momentum and citizen engagement ahead of May.

Although Chambers are economic rather than political actors, our Network wants to do everything it can to ensure that citizens go to vote in May with a clear understanding of the importance of the EU and of the need to elect engaged, informed and committed MEPs for the next 5 years.

We call on businesses and citizens to seize this opportunity to make their voices heard and shape the future of Europe and the degree to which Ireland will benefit.”

Brexit Preparedness

Please note the following information is only a brief overview and should in no way be considered comprehensive. However, with no-deal approaching, these are areas that demand immediate attention. Chambers Ireland has assembled this information to provide helpful information on the potential exposures which may arise in a “no-deal” Brexit. However, we are not professional advisors or consultants and would strongly advise companies to take independent professional advice in relation to Brexit.

Customs, Tariffs and Administration

 Once the UK leaves the EU and customs union, any import or export moving to and from Ireland and the UK will require customs declarations.

  • Businesses will be required to obtain an EORI number, which can be applied for through Revenue. Businesses can either apply themselves, or choose to engage with a customs agent, that files the declaration on their behalf. In addition, Revenue has outlined a number of ways that will help to ‘ease the customs burden’ and to make it easier for business trading with the UK.
  • Customs duties will apply to goods moving to the UK from Ireland and, vice versa. Irish importers and exporters will be required to assign classification codes to their goods to determine the rate of duty. The rate of the duty will then depend on the assigned commodity code. Code classification will become a Brexit cost to trade that companies trading with the UK will become accustomed to
  • As the UK will no longer be a part of the customs union, additional administration requirements and resources may be required to deal with new border arrangements. Businesses should consider whether deliveries can be shipped prior to 29 March 2019 and whether extra supplies of key raw materials can be stored to avoid logistical uncertainties.
  • Separately, the UK government has set up a grants scheme for businesses that complete their customs declarations available on their website. You can apply if your business completes customs declarations and is established in, or has a branch in the UK.


The EU’s current VAT regime allows businesses within EU member countries to immediately reclaim the charge on goods bought from other EU member countries. With the UK leaving the EU in March in a possible no-deal scenario, the UK will be outside of the EU’s VAT regime.

  • Businesses may be required to pay the VAT on goods imported from the UK at the point of entry while waiting up to two months to reclaim the money, which poses a definite risk to businesses’ cash flow, particularly for SMEs.
  • Business should begin to revaluate budget plans and to account for potential increased costs when trading with the UK. For more advice, please consult your accountant.

Cash Flow and Currency

Cash flow management has become a key concern for businesses running up to the UK departure from the EU.

  • Businesses should begin to introduce strategies to ensure continued ability to make payments, follow up with UK based creditors and debtors and agree on priorities and consider the location of bank accounts and forecast anticipated receipts and payments, including tariffs.
  • While the UK does not use the single European currency, business should become aware of the exposure to the Sterling currency and mismatches between assets and liabilities, as well as whether currency clauses need to be inserted. A no deal Brexit is likely to result in an increase in volatility of the Sterling / Euro exchange rate and you should ensure strategies to mitigate any additional exposures are considered. Enterprise Ireland’s Brexit Unit has identified key business questions about the financial implications of currency fluctuations on business.

Chemicals/Machinery and Product Regulatory Issues

It is critical for Irish companies to know which products they use (transportable pressure equipment, pressure equipment, gas appliances, ATEX equipment, machinery, PPE, lifts and chemicals) have supply chain links to the UK, including the sourcing of such products via distributors, especially for chemicals. In a “no-deal” the UK will become a 'third country' and the following will be a concern for Irish business;

  • Unless Irish companies can source products from another EU supplier, the Irish company may become an EU
    importer after Brexit with legal responsibility for the compliance of the product with EU law
  • Where companies use notified bodies based in the UK to undertake any 3rd party conformity assessments which
    are required under relevant EU law they won’t be able to rely on these post Brexit. They will need to source a
    notified body legally designated to carry out conformity assessments in the EU.
  • The HSA is there to support businesses. Contact them at 1890 289 389 or emailing at;
    • Chemicals: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    • Other products: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    • Accreditation: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Rules governing the use of data flows to and from the UK and the EU under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be subject to change in the event of a ‘no-deal’. While data transfers from businesses operating within the UK to businesses operating within the EU should not be impacted by a ‘no deal’ Brexit, businesses operating in Ireland or the EU may be forced to review existing and new contracts to facilitate future data transfers to the UK. Business should map any personal data being transferred to the UK from their organisation. Organisations should update the company/group Privacy Notice and other relevant documentation.

  • For further information, please visit the Irish Data Protection Commission’s dedicated page on data transfers in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit

Free Movement of People

Under a no-deal Brexit, UK citizens will become third country nationals under EU law. Ireland outside of EU agreements has a Common Travel Area and associated rights secured with the UK. This gives Irish nationals the right to continue to enter and work in the UK, and vice versa, without restriction. However, this agreement does not apply to the other 26 Member States.

  • Once Brexit comes into effect free movement of UK citizens to the EU and vice versa will cease to exist. So if your company has staff, who are EU citizens (but not Irish or UK citizens) and they are working in NI or the rest of the UK, they will be required to make formal applications under the “Settlement Scheme” by 31 December 2020. This scheme will open to the public on 21 January 2019 and will be launched regardless of a withdrawal. It is vital that businesses begin to identify employees exposed as a result of Brexit.
  • The DFA has published information about migration post-Brexit on their website to help Irish business navigate migration issues that may arise.


New City Regions Ireland group launched with 8 principles for the urban future

City Regions Ireland is a new group bringing together the Chambers of Commerce of Waterford, Cork, Dublin, Galway and Limerick - Ireland’s 5 cities as identified by the National Planning Framework, Ireland 2040. City Regions Ireland met with the Minister for Housing, Planning and Urban Development Eoghan Murphy TD to outline what is needed to safeguard an ambitious urban future for Ireland’s City Regions. 

In one voice, the 5 cities have devised a document detailing the following 8 principles, spanning infrastructure, housing, and planning to inform policy making, maximise growth, and tackle the common issues and opportunities in our urban regions.

City Regions Ireland’s 8 principles call on policymakers to;

  • Plan for Core Density & Reduce Urban Sprawl
  • Increase Housing Supply
  • Support International Connectivity through our Ports and Airports
  • Develop Transport Infrastructure to Connect our Cities
  • Invest in Public Transport
  • Create Destinations of Higher Education
  • Rejuvenate our City Centres
  • Manage Water and Waste

City Regions Ireland is working for the common goal of ensuring the country’s 5 cities are developed sustainably as the national and regional economic engines and to support a population projected in the National Planning Framework to grow by 25% in Dublin and 50% in the other four cities out to 2040.

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Urban Planning Eoghan Murphy commented on the new City Regions Ireland group;

“It’s essential that we as a country recognise the important part that our cities play in driving our national economy, they are centres of business, culture, education and innovation for everyone, and not just for those who live in them. I’m happy to see that Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Waterford have come together for the collective betterment of urban Ireland, and I look forward to working with City Regions Ireland to ensure that our cities grow and develop sustainably into the future.”

Addressing the Minister, Waterford Chamber CEO Gerald Hurley sought confirmation as to the timelines and level of funding that would be made available for the infrastructure required to enable the development of the North Quays.

The Minister advised that this project received higher funding than any other project, which is an indication of the Government’s commitment to the project and the Waterford City Region and that he is working closely with Waterford City & County Council Chief Executive Michael Walsh to ensure clarity.

Mr Hurley also highlighted the need to Create Destinations of Higher Education across the five cities, saying: “Each of our cities needs to be home to the best in third level education that the country can offer and while our colleagues in City Regions Ireland can boast thriving Universities, the journey continues for Waterford. It is imperative for the growth of our city as the Capital of the South East, as identified in the National Planning Framework, that Waterford Institute of Technology is upgraded to a Technological University.

“WIT is in the top 3 of every performance measure of IOTs in Ireland – it is delivering and it is a high performer. But in terms of regional development, we need more, which is securing University status and we would assume that the investment provided will be in line with that which was allocated to DIT. It would be bizarre if Government investment in new universities would be focused in Dublin when Ireland 2040 seeks to move the capital mass out of Dublin.”

City Regions Ireland is made up of Cork Chamber, Dublin Chamber, Galway Chamber, Limerick Chamber and Waterford Chamber, all members of Chambers Ireland.

Responding to the announcement that Waterford is to receive €7.35 million in funding under the National Development Plan, Waterford Chamber CEO Gerald Hurley said: “It is encouraging to see Waterford has been allocated €7.35 million, the largest allocation out of the 88 projects announced and it is certainly welcome news for Tramore.

“It begs the question, with only €100 million to allocate, should the Government have prioritised key projects instead of taking the attitude of let’s give a little bit to everyone?

“In terms of the North Quays, the allocation is somewhat disappointing, particularly as the project was specifically referenced in the National Planning Framework. It is only natural that Waterford be given the highest allocation, as we need this investment to bring us in line with the other regional cities but what we need now is a commitment from Government that the full funding will be made available, as well as the timelines, which will be required to trigger the tendering process.

“We knew the funding was always going to be on a phased basis, but we need buy-in from everyone, including the Government, that the total funding will be made available.

“Six million euro is a very small sum to advance a project of scale like the North Quays and we must be mindful of the fact that we have investors to keep on side, who are keen to get the project underway.

“We hope this is an indication of the Government’s commitment to making the full amount available but we need assurances as a matter of urgency, so we can begin the project in earnest and realise the goal of being the Capital of the South East, as identified in the Government’s own Ireland 2040 plan and which is fully supported by our neighbouring counties.

“In terms of Tramore, the allocation is most welcome and one that has been pushed for many years. Having recently integrated Tramore Chamber of Tourism & Commerce with Waterford Chamber, we are actively working with the business community in Tramore and look forward to supporting them to grow and develop the town.”

RLP Lunch Nov 2018 1

Shoot for the stars, the sky is not the limit was the hugely inspirational message from Dr Norah Patten at the first Waterford Chamber Regional Leaders Programme Speaker Lunch at the Greenway Manor Hotel.

Speaking to mentors and programme participants, Norah gave a fascinating overview of her career to date and how her determination to make it to space began with a trip to NASA as a child.

Following her dream, Dr Patten attained a PhD in Aeronautical Engineering from University of Limerick, is a faculty member at the International Space University and has participated in many space related professional development programs over the years. In 2014, Norah managed ‘The Only Way is Up’ project which sent Ireland’s first student experiment to the International Space Station. Having a keen interest in education and STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths), Norah founded her own company, Planet Zebunar, which is launching a new series of STEM products designed to encourage, inspire and motivate the next generation of engineers, astronauts, scientists and innovators.

Dr Norah Patten remains on course to be the first Irish person in space and following her motivational talk, guests were left in no doubt at all that it is only a matter of time.

The Regional Leaders Programme is supported by Waterford Chamber Skillnet, Bausch + Lomb and Waterford Institute of Technology.

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