Tuesday, 3 May 2011

New York New Belfast Conferences - Apolitical Funding?

Back in September 2010 I posed the following question:

Belfast Harbour Commissioners are appointed by Conor Murphy, the SF Minister for Regional Development, so why is Belfast Harbour sponsoring a project which has such close links to Sinn Fein?

BH realised there was a party political dimension to the New York New Belfast 2010 conference and so couldn't write a £20,000 sponsorship cheque to Máirtín Ó Muilleoir's Belfast Media Group; it made the cheque out to an alternative account. Ó Muilleoir was appointed as an additional Non-Executive Director to the interim board of Northern Ireland Water but stepped down from the role shortly after taking up the post. His name didn't appear in the initial list of NEDs published in an email about two weeks before the official announcement on 30 June 2010 and the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland asserted:

"The Consumer Council found out about the appointment of the additional NED to the board of NI Water on 30 June 2010."

Is Belfast Harbour sponsoring this years event? The listed sponsors are KPMG, Invest Northern Ireland, NIBureau, United Airlines, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Fordham University, Titanic Quarter, ClubstoHire.com, Irish Network - New York City, The Irish Business Organisation of New York, Odyssey Trust and Irish Business Association.

There's no mention of BH - until you look at the Titanic Quarter website

The Titanic Quarter development is co-promoted by Belfast Harbour and Titanic Quarter Limited.

I wonder if any of the other sponsors, which are in receipt of public funds in whatever manner or are affiliated to government, have an apolitical sponsorship requirement.