FIRST Minister Peter Robinson paid what’s been described as a “historic” visit to West Belfast when he was the keynote speaker at the annual Building Business Together breakfast in the Kennedy Centre this morning.
Stressing how community leaders can build and grow business together in the city, Mr Robinson said: “We are moving forward as a society and we need to stop looking at people in a them-and-us fashion and recognise that we have a future.”
Now in its second year, the business breakfast saw the First Minister joined by his DUP colleague, Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster, at the invitation of West Belfast entrepreneur Gerry Carlisle.
Mr Robinson told the Belfast Media Group how gratified he was at the warm welcome he received from shoppers in the bustling shopping centre and added that he was very impressed by the fact that all the business units at the Kennedy Centre are fully let.
“I’m delighted to be here, I’m delighted with the welcome and the interaction between the people who have attended this event. It’s extremely positive.”
Chaired by West Belfast MP Paul Maskey, the business breakfast was also attended by Mr Maskey’s Sinn Féin colleague, South Belfast MLA Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, the Alliance Party’s Alderman Tom Ekin and Delta Print CEO Terry Cross.
“I’m a big believer in the fact that we need to create as many jobs as possible and we need to continually advance the economy in this place,” said Mr Carlile. “If we can advance the economy and create jobs, then we can also advance the peace and make sure that the standards of people’s lives are better than what they have been in the past and what they currently are.
“I’m delighted that my father, Gerry Senior, is also here to see and listen to the First Minister in his historic visit to West Belfast this morning. I look forward to planning for our third event in 2016.”
Kennedy Centre Manager John Jones said: “This is a very important morning for the Kennedy Centre and all our staff gathered here. I’m delighted to see the First Minister Peter Robinson joined by Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster here, along with our elected representatives. The message from this morning is a very positive one – it’s about job creation, continuing to bring investment to West Belfast, and there is no better place to reinforce the point of a positive community spirit than here at the Kennedy Centre.”