Who would you invite to Northern Ireland’s Powerlunch…

Talkback tried this a few days back and it didn’t exactly work, but I thought we might make a bit headway here on Slugger… If you wanted to assemble the the six or seven most powerful people (you don’t have to like them, btw), who would they be? I’ll be assembling my list which I’ll reveal when we make a bit of progress here…

  • Glenn Ross for a start….

  • Mick Fealty

    Thanks. Not quite what I had in mind, but that’s one. What about the other five or six?

  • wild turkey

    ‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past.’

    W Faulkner. Requiem for a Nun

    Mick, do all the guests have to currently be alive and kicking?

  • slug

    Assuming this is restricted to people with residences (official or otherwise) in NI then in no particular order: Nigel Dodds, Peter Robinson, P O’Neill, Martin McGuinness, the Catholic Church leader, and British Sec Of State for NI.

  • Sean Quinn?

  • DC

    David Gavaghan SIB.

  • Bruiser

    Julian Symons is top the list for me.

  • Bruiser

    Sorry that should be Julian Simmons. Closely followed by Frank Mitchel.

  • Mick Fealty


    Oh yes.


    Try and stretch yourselves like slug, and give us a tableful in one hit?

    Are politicians the most powerful in the country? I’m considering inviting William McKee who has an eighth of the Assembly’s annual budget at his disposal: http://url.ie/13q2

  • Rory Carr

    What about some suggestions for a lunch for those with no power? After all it was the powerless who began the struggle that gave power to any today.

    If their representatives are even to be given a voice to which the ear of the powerful might harken who would they be? In my day – Bernadette Devlin (no introduction necessary, I trust), Sam Thompson (shipyard worker and playwright)and Andrew Boyd (trade unionist) would have been prominent. Who is there today?

  • Mark McGregor

    Wouldn’t have any of them in the house never-mind feeding them but my quick list of those with the real local power would include:

    Maurice Maxwell, Pat Colgan, Peter Robinson, Bruce Robinson, Sean Quinn and the Lagan Brothers.

  • Mark McGregor

    Just realised no women on my or any other list, i’ll fix that with Briege Gadd but only for her role in the Lottery.

  • Mick Fealty


    That’s fine, but what does it tell us?

    The utility of the original idea lies in identifying where people think the real power lies.

    Fun, and useful. Geddit?

  • qubol

    What about the head of the civil service or the head of the NHS? They have huge budgets and people underneath them.
    Many of the top people would be in the public sector I think.

  • Eddie

    The Editor of BBC NI News and Current Affairs and counterpart at UTV.

  • Mick Fealty

    The former would almost certainly have to be there. The nearest to the latter would be Mr McKee.

    So that fills two places at my table: William McKee and Bruce Robinson who succeeded Sir Nigel Hamilton in the summer. His biog is here: http://url.ie/13r0.

    If I was going to pick a politician, it would have to be the top man: Peter Robinson. I don’t think there is much point in picking more than one from the same system; since if this is to be a genuine power lunch, they should all have separate fiefdoms.

    Of course, we might argue over whether you should then have both Robinson’s at the one table; but I think their power bases are sufficiently separate to warrant the presence of both.

    So who else?

  • Mick Fealty


    can you give us some reasons for your pick?

  • Eddie

    Find out who goes in the bunker in the event of nuclear war and you will have the most important (or is it powerful) people in N Ireland, or at least who the important think are really important.

    Changes the perspective a bit, what? Would include an engineer maybe. News person too for radio transmisions.

  • Anon

    Power lunch: In the US the whole table would be elected politicians. In Northern Ireland, the table would be dominated by civil servants, appointees and other unelected figures. That’s the kind of society this is. Here’s my table of six:

    1. Peter Robinson, First Minister
    2. Bruce Robinson, Head of NI Civil Service
    3. Sir Hugh Orde, PSNI Chief
    4. William McKee, Belfast Trust CEO (spends 1/8 of the Assembly budget in an organisation that practically runs Belfast and is NI’s largest employer)
    5. Sean Quinn, NI’s wealthiest man
    6. Shawn Woodward, Sec of State

  • Mick Fealty


    I would dispute that. Lobbyists are in some ways a lot more powerful than common or garden elected politicians. Media figures probably less so.

    For now though, I’m going to co-opt Hugh Orde onto my guest list. That gives me:

    – Peter Robinson
    – Bruce Robinson
    – William McKee
    – Hugh Orde

    I’m holding fire on Woodward, mostly because his power is marginal and what he does have is largely subsidiary to the PM.

  • RepublicanStones

    Eric Roberts
    Brian Dennehy
    Micheal Keaton
    John Tuturro
    Kurt Russell

  • RepublicanStones

    Ooops…wrong list !

  • Mick Fealty

    And you’re one or two short. Sharpen up RS!

  • Rory Carr

    I know where the real power lies, Mick. It lies with those outside with their noses pressed up against the window-pane.

    Those dining inside know it too, which is why they require guards in order to eat while pretending to each other the extent of their individual or collective power.

  • Mark McGregor


    All about money. Two men that link us to Europe and have ears of the right people, those that have most impact on the Brit Treasury money, the richest in business and our local link to the Lottery Board

    Maurice Maxwell – EU Commission’s man in the north, Pat Colgan – Special EU Programmes

    All the others should be easily recognisable.

  • dunreavynomore

    1. The Lisburn dinosaur to represent politicians.
    2. A punch and Judy show to represent the same politicians at work.
    3. A burglar to represent the banking industry.
    4. An alcoholic to represent our ‘culture’
    5. An idiot to represent the rest of us.

  • Comrade Stalin


    Are you sure ? The cabinet in the US is appointed by the President, they’re not elected.

  • Mick Fealty

    Received this via a Facebook message from a member of Slugger’s Facebook group:

    “I really tried this. But what is the point of a budget if someone else sets the priorities. Our economy is 70% public sector, which excludes anyone making a impact from the private sector.

    While the head of the Civil Service should be important on that basis, what ‘power’ does he have – does this not still rest with the NIO?

    Some are suggesting Sir Hugh, but is the head of MI5 at Holywood not more powerful? Our politicians, run to London or Dublin for ‘authority’ – how powerful is that?

    I just could not think of one person in northern ireland that is ‘most powerful’. Never thought about that before. Bit grim. really.”

  • I’m going to have to consult this year’s Belfast Confidential Power List before I turn over my table.

  • Dave

    How can you be powerful when you are not sovereign, being subservient to masters for economic subsistence and political direction? Even within your puppet parliament, none of the puppets have any power to change the acts of the play. Power? Nope, abject impotence. It only exists because the strategy of making political actors out of terrorists would be a tad hard to do if they omitted to provide them with a political stage. Therefore, if you are going to hold a lunch for the powerful, book a restuarant between Whitehall and Millbank.

  • RepublicanStones

    Mick I’ll give my proper list after my anuual ‘Mason Orange Klux Sinn Civil Columbus Blogster Secret Handshake Society’ dinner. Held in the Glenavaon, Cookstown….naturally !

  • DC

    “How can you be powerful when you are not sovereign, being subservient to masters for economic subsistence and political direction?”

    It’s the battle of ideas Dave, all can change if people’s ideas are right and attitudes too.

    Mick, you mentioned the Belfast Trust person for he had a budget of 1billion; David Gavaghan steers a budget of over £4 billion and is arguably the fulcrum if not arbiter of those lucrative public to private contracts.

    Oh and he is paid more than £214,000 a year, more than Peter Robinson and the head of civil service (not including allowances, but I’m sure he gets a lot of those too).

  • kensei

    For all the people putting Peter Robinson and MMG: in theory the only difference between them si the “Deputy” in the title. Is this an indicatione of the symbollic power of that, or the belief that the DUP is whipping SF?

    And if the question is really about “Where does the power lie”, then you are reallly going to have to have Gordon Brown.

  • Mick Fealty

    I’ve shared my reasoning: with only six or seven seats available, I’d only invite one. Then it’s a matter of which you choose. For me that’s got to be the guy with the larger representation, and the title.

    But you can bring both, if you wish.

  • Mick Fealty

    David Gavaghan, Chief Executive of the Strategic Investment Board. Yep, certainly got to be in with a shout. Let me amend my provisional list:

    – Peter Robinson, First Minister

    – Bruce Robinson, Head of NICS

    – William McKee, Belfast Trust

    – David Gavaghan, Strategic Investment Board

    – Hugh Orde (or successor), Chief Constable

    I’m now thinking of nominating a banker (though this may not be the best time to entice one out in company…) Any ideas about which is the key player in the sector?