Giant's Causeway

About the Group

The Northern Ireland Economic Reform Group consists of economists, accountants and businessmen based in Northern Ireland who wish to see a more successful and competitive NI economy, less dependent on a public sector subvention from taxpayers in GB. The group believe that the current range of grant incentives to stimulate investment are by themselves insufficient to promote a narrowing of the wide gap in productivity between NI and both GB and other small EU countries in Western Europe. Constraints set by EU state aid rules are about to make this task even more difficult, and the group take the view that reduced corporation tax is the best way to ensure a rapid acceleration in investment and productivity.

The members of the Group are:

Eamonn Donaghy

Eamonn Donaghy (KPMG)

Eamonn is Head of Tax at KPMG Belfast. He is a Chartered Accountant and a Chartered Tax Advisor and is chairman of the NI tax committee of Chartered Accountants Ireland. Eamonn provides tax advisory services to some of Northern Irelands largest businesses and regularly provides advice to multinational organisations making inward investments into the North. Over the last 15 years Eamonn has actively promoted the introduction of a reduced rate of Corporation Tax in Northern Ireland as the centre point for economic policy in the development of the NI economy in the global business world.

Neil Gibson

Neil Gibson (Oxford Economics Ltd)

Neil Gibson is the director of Oxford Economics’ Regional Services Division, having joined Oxford Economics from Regional Forecasts, which he founded.

Neil leads a team based in Oxford, London and Belfast. In his role he is responsible for Oxford’s regional services which include the bi-annual Regional Economic Outlook and he designed and maintains a range of be-spoke local models for areas such as East of England, Greater Manchester, the Black Country, West of Scotland and Northern Ireland. Neil has particular experience in developing forecast models, delivering evidence based policy advice and providing thought leadership on issues facing regional and sub-regional economies. He is a regular commentator in the Northern Ireland press on economic matters and a contributor to the annual Regional Economic Conference. Neil was instrumental in building the Corporation tax model underpinning the ERINI study and has constructed a wide range of forecast and analytical models relating to current policy debates. He is strongly committed to supporting economic development in Northern Ireland.

Dr. Graham Gudgin

Dr. Graham Gudgin
(Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge)

Graham Gudgin is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre For Business Research, University of Cambridge and Senior Economic Advisor with Oxford Economics. He moved to Northern Ireland in 1985 from Cambridge to take up the post of Director of the Northern Ireland Economic Research Centre, an office which he held until 1998 when he was seconded as Special Adviser to the Northern Ireland First Minister on economic policy. On leaving government in 2002 he started a new business in Northern Ireland, Regional Forecasts Ltd., which was subsequently sold to Oxford Economics and now employs 15 graduates based in Lisburn. He is the author of a large number of books, reports and journal articles on regional economic growth in the UK and on the growth of small firms. He took part in the Assembly’s unsuccessful attempt in 2006 to persuade the UK government to devolve responsibility for corporation tax and still believes that this is an important idea whose time will come.

Michael Hall

Michael Hall (Ernst and Young)

Michael Hall is Senior Partner of Ernst & Young in Northern Ireland. On qualifying as a Chartered Accountant in 1997, Michael joined Ernst & Young’s tax department in Belfast. Between 2000 and 2002 he had an 18 month secondment to Ernst & Young’s London office where he focused on international tax, business start-ups and advising companies on listings to the London AIM. Towards the end of 2006 Michael had a 3 month secondment to the Almac Group where he worked closely with the Group Board of Directors. Michael became a Partner in Ernst & Young in January 2007 and took on the role as Senior Partner for Northern Ireland in November 2008. He provides advice to a wide range of clients from owner-managed businesses to plc’s which operate across many different business sectors both in the UK and internationally. He has a particular specialism in advising companies which operate in the UK and Republic of Ireland on cross border tax issues.

Dr Victor Hewitt

Dr Victor Hewitt (Director ERINI)

Victor Hewitt is the Director of the Economic Research Institute of Northern Ireland (ERINI). Mr Hewitt is a former Chief Economist and Head of Profession in the Northern Ireland Civil Service. As Director of ERINI Mr Hewitt is responsible for managing a broad research agenda including work on the role of innovation and technical change in promoting economic development. He is a member of the Forum of the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin and a member of the Irish Energy Research Council as well as a Visiting Professor in Economics at the University of Ulster. Mr Hewitt was a key advisor to the local political parties in negotiations with the Chancellor of the Exchequer leading up to the restoration of devolution in 2007. He is frequently called to give evidence to Committees of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Sir George Quigley

Sir George Quigley (Board member, Bombardier-Shorts)

Sir George Quigley graduated with a first-class honours degree and Ph.D. from Queen’s University Belfast. After a career in the Civil Service he became Chairman of Ulster Bank and also served as a non-executive director on the Main Board of Nat West and as Chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland Pension Fund. His current appointments include the Chairmanship of Bombardier Aerospace Belfast and of Lothbury Property Trust. His roles in public life in Northern Ireland have included Chairmanship of the NI Economic Council and The Royal Group of Hospitals and conduct of a Review of the Parades Commission.  He holds Honorary Doctorates from Queen’s University and from the University of Ulster and The Open University. In 2007 he was elected a Member of the Royal Irish Academy.

Michael Smyth

Michael Smyth (University of Ulster)

Primary degree in Political Economy and French at University College Dublin, followed by postgraduate study at Trinity College Dublin and Queen's University Belfast where he took a Master of Science in Economics.

He has been an academic economist for over thirty years and has published widely in academic and professional journals. His research interests are in regional policy and local economic development. He is a member of the editorial board of the First Trust Bank Business Outlook and Economic Review and commentates regularly on the short to medium term prospects for the Northern Ireland economy.

He has worked in the Centre for Economic Forecasting at the London Business School and has taught economics in the University of Caen in France. He is a member of the CBI Northern Ireland Economic Affairs Committee and of the Economic Strategy Committee of the Institute of Directors. He is a former special adviser to the Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Committee of the Scottish Parliament and he has acted as economic adviser to the Preparation for Government Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly. He is a member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). He is treasurer of Habinteg Housing Association (NI) and is currently Head of Economics at the University of Ulster.

He writes regularly about business and economic policy issues in the local and national press.