“Brexit will not stop the economies on both sides of the Irish border growing” newly appointed Chief Economist at leading business advisory firm Grant Thornton, Andrew Webb has said.

Speaking as the timeline for the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union remains uncertain, Andrew said businesses across Ireland had already shown an ability to thrive regardless of adverse conditions.

Andrew said:

“The economy across Ireland has shown remarkable resilience over the past few years and while there is a marked difference in the pace of growth between Northern Ireland and the Republic, we expect both parts of the island to continue growing during the rest of the year.

“Much of the forward look is still dependent on Brexit and the terms of trade between the United Kingdom and the European Union. The most recent delay, until the end of October potentially, provides some breathing space and perhaps room for calm heads to prevail but brings no certainty for business.

“However, while Brexit has rightly dominated the socio, economic and political conversation across the island for several years, there are a broad range of core issues upon which focus must be retained.

“In addition to planning for Brexit, both economies on the island face challenges around issues such as skills, innovation, productivity, housing, internationalisation, economic inactivity, and entrepreneurship.”

Andrew joined Grant Thornton at the beginning of this month and will lead the firm’s Economic Advisory services to governmental and private clients across Ireland.

With more than 20 years of experience providing economic advice to organisations in the public and private sector, Andrew brings with him market leading expertise both as an economist and commentator.

He added:

“At an all-island level – almost ironically given where Brexit could take us – there has been an increased focus to develop a more integrated economy, either through the Belfast to Dublin Eastern corridor initiative, the Wild Atlantic Way or the North West Regional Development Group.

“Our Economic Advisory practice is already engaged in this space and aims to support innovative policy development across the island.”

Richard Gillan, Managing Partner, Grant Thornton Northern Ireland added:

“Andrew Webb is one of Ireland’s foremost economic advisors and commentators, and his arrival further strengthens the Grant Thornton offering in this space.

“Joining Andrew is John Lavery, who assumes the role of Associate Director in the Economic Advisory team, following more than 13 years consulting experience in the UK, Ireland and New Zealand.

“Grant Thornton is enjoying a period of sustained expansion with exponential growth across our core tax, audit and advisory lines, while we continue to see a huge uplift in the number of companies seeking assistance from our specialist Brexit team.

“As a result, revenues in Northern Ireland have more than trebled in the past four years, while Experian ranked us as the leading corporate finance adviser in 2018.

“Recruitment of 48 new roles, recently announced as part of a £4 million expansion is also well under way and we anticipate further growth to come.”