The widow of the late pharmaceuticals entrepreneur Lord Ballyedmond leads a list of the province’s 20 richest individuals and families, whose combined wealth has soared by £366m since last year according to the 2017 Sunday Times Rich List.
This year’s guide to the UK’s 1,000 richest people also includes industrialist and philanthropist Martin Naughton and Michael Graham, the construction tycoon for the first time. Both were previously listed only in the Sunday Times Irish Rich List.
The 160-page list for 2017, the 29th and biggest edition to date, also includes actress Roma Downey her husband Mark Burnett the husband and wife team who helped launch Donald Trump’s TV career with the US version of The Apprentice .
Lady Ballyedmond, who inherited the fortune of her husband Lord Ballyedmond following his death in a helicopter accident in 2014, tops the Northern Ireland list.
She inherited a £344m fortune as well as the £1bn Norbrook Laboratories business, one of the world’s leading veterinary pharmaceutical companies.
Lady Ballyedmond’s wealth is up £20m to £1.42bn, making her the richest person in Northern Ireland, and the 16th richest woman in the UK.
Martin Naughton is the second richest in Northern Ireland and a new entry in this year’s UK rich list with a wealth of £1.19bn, more than three times higher than the next person on the list.
Naughton is widely regarded as one of Ireland’s greatest philanthropists and donated £18.3m last March towards arts and education, despite almost halving the profits of his Newry-based Glen Electric business.
In third place are Downey and Burnett, now regarded America’s king of reality TV, having also dreamt up Survivor, Shark Tank and The Voice. He is president of MGM Television whilst Downey acts as chief content officer of the faith and family division, alongside her acting career. They are collectively worth £390m, up £15m on last year.
In fourth place are brothers Paul and Jeremy Eakin and family – the only fallers in the top 20 – whose wealth is down by £10m to £300m. Their T G Eakin medical supplies company, founded by father Tom in 1974, specialises in products for stoma and wound care and sells in 40 countries.
Of the other millionaires, Randox founder Peter FitzGerald’s wealth stands at £255m, up £130m from 2016, making him the fifth richest in the province.
The Northern Ireland top 20 is as follows: Lady Ballyedmond and family £1.42bn Up £20m; 2, Martin Naughton and family, £1.19bn; 3, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey £390m Up £15m; 4, Paul and Jeremy Eakin and family £300m Down £10m;
5, Peter FitzGerald and family, £255m Up £130m; 6, Danny Hill, £228m Up £45m; 7, Robert Barnett and family £202m Up £20m; 8 John King £190m No change; 9, Brian Conlon £176m Up £49m; 10 Paddy McKillen £166m Up £10m; 11, Kevin and Michael Lagan £163m, Up £3m; 12, Michael Graham and family £145m New; 13, Chris Rea, £135m, Up £15m; 14= Brenda Salters and family £130m, Up £25m; 14= Joe Sloan and family £130m Up £25m; 16 Chris Watson and family £126m No change; 17
Eoin McCann and family £121m Up £11m; 18, Harold Montgomery and family, £118m, Up £3m; 19 Michael Loughran and family, £117m Up £5m; 20, Tony and Maureen Wheeler, £112m, No change.