About the Ulster Society

Chartered Accountants Ulster Society is the oldest district society of the Institute and serves around 4,500 members throughout Northern Ireland. The Chairman is Niall Harkin.

The Ulster Society provides professional, educational and social services and events for its members (in practice, in business, in the public sector and charity/ voluntary sector) and is a strong voice for Northern Ireland's business sector. The Society also actively fosters relationships with other accountancy, professional organisations and government bodies.


The Ulster Society has congratulated member Jackie Henry on being awarded with an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. The Honour recognises Jackie’s service to the Economy in Northern Ireland. Ulster Society Chair Dawn Johnston said: “On behalf of our members, I would like to congratulate Jackie on her MBE Award.  Receiving such recognition is always a noteworthy event, and I’m sure she will have received many congratulations from the general business community. “I know that many of our officers, members and staff have noted the Award and I am certain that they will share these sentiments. This magnificent honour award recognises Jackie’s significant contribution to the life of Northern Ireland and is very well deserved.”

Jul 22, 2016
Press release

Majority of Northern Ireland’s Chartered Accountants support ‘Remain’ in EU referendum A survey of almost 400 Chartered Accountants in practice, industry and the public sector suggests that Northern Ireland’s economic recovery may have stalled and that the outlook for the year ahead is ‘indifferent’. The survey by Chartered Accountants Ulster Society shows that 68% of its respondents say that Northern Ireland is ‘some way towards recovery’ (down from 72% in 2015), while 23% believe that it is ‘a long way off recovery’ (up from 21% in 2015). Just 8% feel that Northern Ireland is ‘well on the way to recovery’ (up from 6% in 2015). In terms of the outlook for the year ahead, 32% of Chartered Accountants rated prospects as ‘good’ (down from 38% in 2015), 51% rated prospects as ‘indifferent’ (up from 44% in 2015), while 18% rated prospects as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ (up from 17% in 2015). Chartered Accountants cite the biggest negative issues for the local economy in the year ahead as cuts in Government spending, exchange rate volatility, the pending EU referendum and the global economic outlook. The issues regarded as having the most positive impact on the local economy were falling oil prices and the introduction of a reduced Corporation Tax rate in 2018.  Respondents also felt very strongly about the importance of having a highly skilled workforce in place going forward. On the issue of the EU referendum, a majority of 72% of respondents said that it would be in the best interests of the Northern Ireland economy to remain part of the EU. 12% believed it would be better to leave the EU, while 16% were not sure. Those who favoured remaining in the EU cited the potential negative impact of Brexit on foreign direct investment (FDI), on trade relationships and on the Northern Ireland economy in general as key factors. For those supporting a Brexit vote, self-determination, the EU debt burden, global trade opportunities and immigration issues were cited as key factors. On the issue of the introduction in April of the National Living Wage of £7.20 for workers over 25 years old, a majority supported the policy. 60% of respondents agreed with its introduction, 33% did not agree and 7% were unsure. Those surveyed did suggest, however, that the introduction of the National Living Wage was likely to reduce pay growth, slow down recruitment and raise prices for consumers. The survey of local Chartered Accountants also shows that the almost half (48%) do not support the devolution of any further fiscal powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly. 33% support the devolution of fiscal powers, while 19% are not sure. The survey shows that a lack of confidence in the Assembly is a key factor in the lack of appetite for greater devolved powers. 17% felt that the Assembly do have the capability to exercise additional fiscal powers, but 64% do not have confidence. 53% do agree that devolution of further fiscal powers would, in principle, allow the Assembly greater flexibility to adapt to local economic and social circumstances, with 28% in disagreement. The fiscal powers which are considered most worthwhile for Northern Ireland are the power to amend Air Passenger Duty on short haul flights and variance of VAT for certain business sectors including tourism. The survey also suggests that both the demand for and supply of business finance is increasing. 60% believe demand has increased since last year (55% in 2015), while 43% believe supply is growing (27% in 2015). The survey suggests that financial distress amongst the business sector is slightly less prevalent than in 2015. 38% of Chartered Accountants believed that the share of businesses in financial distress is falling (34% in 2015).  39% felt that the number of businesses in distress was unchanged, while 16% felt the number was increasing. 7% were not sure. Dawn Johnston, Chair of Chartered Accountants Ulster Society which represents over 3,900 Chartered Accountants in Northern Ireland, said: “The good news is that the share of businesses in financial distress seems to be falling, but the survey suggests that the overall economic recovery in Northern Ireland may have stalled and that the outlook for the year ahead is indifferent. “Our 2014 survey showed an upturn in optimism and confidence in business conditions, but we have not seen significant progress in the last two years. “On the issue of Brexit, these results show that a majority of our members believe it is better for the UK to remain in the EU, but it also shows that 16% have yet to make their mind up on the issue. Only 5% feel fully informed of the implications of a potential Brexit. “The survey shows some frustration with our local politicians and their ability to deliver. A majority of those surveyed felt that further devolution of fiscal powers could be helpful in facing economic challenges, but nearly two-thirds of those surveyed were not confident of the NI Assembly’s capability to exercise those powers. “Our members see the availability of skilled labour and the reduced rate of Corporation Tax as positives for our economy. Our members have stressed the need for a properly worked out plan involving the private sector to prepare for the forthcoming reduction in Corporation Tax. It is clear that we need to invest in education, skills and infrastructure, as well as provide a stable political environment if we are to really take advantage of the new rate in 2018.” Independent economist Maureen O’Reilly, who formulated and analysed the survey of Northern Ireland’s Chartered Accountants said: “The survey results suggest that Northern Ireland’s recovery has lost some momentum. Chartered Accountants in the survey do not feel that there is a strong sense of positivity about economic prospects in the year ahead with only 32% viewing prospects as good. Uncertainty around Northern Ireland’s economic outlook is being driven by factors including a weak global economic outlook, exchange rate volatility, the impact of the pending EU referendum along with public sector cuts.“  Key findings in the survey include: 68% feel that Northern Ireland some way towards recovery; 23% feel recovery is a long way off. 32% feel that NI’s economic prospects in the year ahead are good; 18% feel that prospects are poor. Government cuts (90%), exchange rate volatility (69%), the EU referendum (55%) and the global economic outlook (53%) are the biggest issues affecting the NI economy. 38% believe that the number of businesses in distress is falling; 16% feel that the share of businesses in distress is increasing. 72% of Chartered Accountants believe it would be better for the NI Economy for the UK to remain in the EU; 12% feel a vote to leave would be better; 16% are not sure. 368 Chartered Accountants took part in the survey.

Apr 21, 2016