Last night, with James O'Fee ( Seamus O Fiaich), I attended the fifteenth annual Aisling Awards (Gradain na hAislinge) gala at the Europa Hotel, Belfast. I am the past Roll of Honour recipent for 2008. The guest of honour was an Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, who headed a glittering guest list. I extended to him the Lord Bannside's best wishes, following our meeting with him earlier in the year.
The annual celebration brought together political, business and community leaders from across the city to raise a glass to the bridge-builders and local heroes of Belfast.
Accolades in a range of categories, including Culture and Arts, Belfast Brand, Business, Inter-Community, An Ghaeilge and Sport, were awarded at the event compered by Paul Clarke of UTV.
Highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Person of the Year Award – previous recipients have included Emma Groves, Inez McCormack, Naomi Long and Caitríona Ruane – by the Taoiseach to Geraldine Finucane.
A prestigious list of sponsors for the 2011 Aisling Awards was led by LBM and included the Park Centre, Sean Grahams, Cable & Wireless, the Kennedy Centre, Moviehouse, TG4, Tennents NI and Mercury Security Management Ltd.
Said Alison Sweeney of the Belfast Media Group: “This is a tough time for Belfast as the recession continues to bite, but we think that makes it all the more important to celebrate those who are building tomorrow’s Belfast. We are looking forward to a night which affirms our faith in the future and our belief in the genius and talent of the people of Belfast.”
Tonight I attended the annual Institute of Chartered Secretaries & Administrators dinner at the Reform Club, Royal Avenue Belfast, organised by Dermott Brooks of Andras House Ltd, 60 Great Victoria Street, Belfast,
The guest of honour was Ron Rosenhead MBE and his wife, President of Institute of Chartered Secretaries & Administrators, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland and Associated Territories. Ron is ICSA’s President and has served on the UK Committee, International Council and the Audit committee since 2010; previously he was a member of the Education Committee and has been Chairman and Treasurer of the Institute’s Wessex Branch/Group. Following a career in the Army he took up a Finance Director appointment and his portfolio of tasks revolves around property and asset management in the United Kingdom and United States. He is also a Trustee of two Army related charities.
The guest speaker was Jim Eastwood, 3rd Runner-Up in Sir Alan Sugar's The Apprentice Competition on BBC Television. And I sat between Sir George and Lady Moyra Quigley, two delightful companions.