Brexit expert and tourism chief among business figures honored by Queen

Gary McDonald Editor-in-Chief

02 June 2022 01:00

The former director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium and renowned expert on the Brexit debate has spoken of the ‘incredible honour’ of being named an MBE as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honors for his services to the economy .

Aodhan Connolly, who recently left Belfast to take up a commercial post in Brussels, is one of several northern business figures named in the honors list, released to coincide with the Platinum Jubilee.

A Cambridge University law graduate, Connolly, who took up her post five weeks ago as Director of the European Division and Head of NI’s Executive Office in Brussels, said: “I was surprised to say the least when I received the letter, and I’m thrilled at the recognition.

“But while it is an incredible honor for me as an individual, it is collectively thanks to the work of the Business Brexit Task Force, formed in December 2019 in response to the passage of the Brexit Deal Bill. withdrawal to highlight the concerns of the 85% of Northern Ireland business she represents.”

In this role, as well as during his decade-long tenure as the first full-time director of the NI Retail Consortium, Aodhan has earned the respect of business, politics and the media for his knowledge and ability to convey complex issues in a concise and clear manner. .

Also recognized with an MBE for services to the economy is Adam Murphy who, together with his wife Sinead, co-founded Shnuggle, the smart baby products company based in Newtownards.

Over the past 12 years, Shnuggle has developed a prestigious international business, including significant overseas growth and the design and production of approximately 20 core products, and the company has won over 50 awards for innovation, international trade and sustainability, including a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2019.

From humble beginnings in 2009 as an idea developed at the dining table by Adam and Sinead, Shnuggle now exports to 40 countries and is the market leader in South Korea and has sales across Europe, the Americas and Asia, with its products sold online through its own website and stocked at major retailers including Next, John Lewis, Mothercare and Mamas & Papas.

Outgoing Tourism NI President Terence Brannigan (71) receives an OBE for service to tourism and the business community.

He had a long and distinguished career in both the public and private sectors, beginning by spending almost 30 years with Compass Group before becoming Managing Director of Resource Group.

His many other roles have included chairmanship of CBI, Glentoran FC and the Maze Long Kesh Development Corporation, and until earlier this year he was a visiting professor at the Ulster University Business Institute. He also served on the board of Co-operation Ireland

Speaking last month at a Tourism NI conference, he said: ‘During my tenure as Chairman I have witnessed a real passion and pride in presenting the best face of Northern Ireland to the world. as we began to reap the benefits of sustained investment in the development of a world-class product. .

“We have been helped in large part by events like The Open and the huge success of Game of Thrones and more recently Derry Girls to increase our international exposure. I am extremely proud of how the industry has responded to the pandemic with firmness, adaptability and willingness to innovate, in order to survive and recover.

One of Northern Ireland’s highest honours, Companion of the Order of the Bath (CBE), has been awarded to Tracy Meharg, Permanent Secretary of the Communities Department, for Public Service.

Prior to taking up her current role in December 2018, she spent 16 years at Invest NI in a number of roles, including as Executive Director.

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