11 October, Stormont Hotel, Belfast
Dr Esmond Birnie joined the UUEPC as senior economist in October 2016. Prior to that he was chief economist for PwC in Northern Ireland and Scotland. Previously he was senior lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast (co-author of 17 journal articles and six books), a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly (1998-2007) and a ministerial special adviser (employment and learning, 2007-2010).
Jamie is twice winner of the NI Business Journalist of the Year award and has forged a career in business journalism. Jamie began his career in journalism working in the Irish News before moving to Downtown Radio. In 1980 he joined UTV. Since then he has worked on and edited current affairs and consumer programmes, before moving back to news. As former business editor for UTV and U105 Radio, Jamie has covered the big stories in the industrial and commercial world and he was one of only a few voices warning of an overheated housing market. He has consistently offered critical support for the introduction here of a reduced rate of corporation tax.
In 2014 he launched Northern Ireland’s first user-friendly energy price comparison website, which in addition to uncovering the best electricity deals provides a wealth of information about the energy market. He is currently carrying out research into the use of solar energy to dry firewood.
Since retiring from UTV last year, he has continued to act as a business commentator on radio and television and has also been working as a business analyst and media trainer.
In addition to an MA in Philosophy from Cambridge University, he also has an MSc in Finance and Investment from the University of Ulster.
Celine McStravick is director of the National Children’s Bureau (NCB), a leading research and development charity working to improve the experiences and life chances of children and young people across England and Northern Ireland. Celine has led a large and high-profile assignment on behalf of the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) to devise a Child Poverty Outcomes Framework which was delivered as part of the Delivering Social Change initiative.
Celine has led several significant policy development strands and has also led the campaign to introduce the full implementation of OBA (also known as RBA outside the UK) in Northern Ireland where the draft Programme for Government now includes high level outcomes and population indicators. In addition, Celine was chair of the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum and currently chairs the working group for the development of new anti-bullying legislative guidance.
In her spare time Celine is a board member of CO3 (Chief Officers of the Third Sector) and was a board member of Sport NI from January 2015 to February 2018.
Margaret Pratt was CIPFA’s first female president (1998). She joined Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council in 1979 as its first graduate trainee at the age of 25, qualifying in 1982. She became active in the Midlands Student Society and CIPFA nationally in the early 1980s and played a key role in establishing CIPFA in the Midlands as the first integrated CIPFA Region. She was an elected member of the CIPFA Council between 1988 and 2003.
Margaret has had a varied professional career working in local government, consultancy and the NHS before establishing her own consultancy in 1999. She has worked in a range of executive, non-executive and advisory roles.