The London City Lunch returned to the Mansion House on Friday 24th September 2021. Held in the stunning surroundings of the Egyptian Hall, the lunch was attended by 220 guests including His Excellency, Mr Adrian O’Neill, Ambassador of Ireland.
The lunch began with a champagne and Guinness reception where guests enjoyed the opportunity to network and catch up with friends and colleagues. Alderman Sir Andrew Parmley, representing the Lord Mayor, welcomed everyone and spoke about the important relationship between Ireland and the City of London. Hugh Beattie, London Partner at event sponsor McCann FitzGerald, thanked and acknowledged the extraordinary work of The Ireland Funds throughout the pandemic, before welcoming keynote speaker, Dalton Philips, to the stage.
In an inspiring address, Mr Philips, who is Chief Executive of daa (formerly Dublin Airport Authority) began by telling guests about his background growing up in Ireland in a farming family with a passion for aviation. Schooled in a British public school and educated at UCD, he launched into an international career in retail which took him to Italy, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and the UK, before leading him back to Ireland and Dublin Airport. Dalton spoke of the importance of connectivity and how as a nation, the Irish are driven to connect and how the strength of our connections underpin Ireland’s entire economy, trade, tourism and FDI. Recalling the eerie silence at Dublin Airport when the pandemic began and how up to 100,000 connections a day were cut off overnight, he compared the challenges of running a business in the last 18 months with marathon running; you overcome the most difficult times by putting one foot in front of the other and you keep going. He spoke about the future of the aviation industry and how important it is to win back Ireland’s connectivity. Closing his address with an acknowledgement of the importance of events like the City Lunch for reconnecting people, Dalton expressed his hopefulness for working with friends of Ireland in the coming years to rebuild, renew and reconnect our nation.
Following lunch, Katie Jemmett, Director of IFGB, delivered the fundraising presentation, drawing guests’ attention to the exceptional work of community organisations across Ireland and Great Britain during the pandemic to rally around the communities they serve, and the support that The Ireland Funds delivered through its Emergency Covid-19 Response Fund and more recently the Heart of the Community Fund.
Closing remarks were delivered by Mr Phil Hogan, former EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Trade, who applauded The Ireland Funds for leading the spirit of ‘giving back’. Returning to the theme of connectivity, he stressed the importance of good relationships between Europe, the UK and USA to reduce barriers to trade. He expressed his hope for an orderly implementation of the Northern Irish Protocol in the coming months and highlighted the golden opportunity that exists for Northern Ireland in terms of trade and foreign direct investment. He thanked the audience for their support for Ireland and its people and underlined how important it is that charities and people know that organisations like The Ireland Funds are there to support them.
The event was generously sponsored by McCann FitzGerald and Ridgeway.
Photography: Noel Mullen