The son of immigrants from Conamara, he has risen to hold the position of First Citizen in the city of his birth.
A graduate of the school of hard knocks, he epitomises the no-nonsense character and spirited resilience of Boston itself — and its inexorable rise. And now he’s coming home. To Conamara, certainly, but to Belfast also where he will headline our own exuberant September Homecoming.
The Homecoming and Belfast One City Conference (An Teacht Abhaile agus Comdháil Aon Chathrach Bhéal Feirste) aims to bring the Disapora back to join in the conversation about how to make the great city of Belfast whole again.
We are aiming to have 50 expats and members of the Diaspora join us this year but see that number rising to 150 by 2016. Those coming home will see a city transformed by peace but they will also hear many calls to action allowing them to reinvest, reengage, reconnect and rebuild Belfast.
To have that band of emigrant sons and daughters led by the man who stands at the helm of our sister city of Boston will put a spring in the step of Belfast.
The Boston Globe’s Kevin Cullen best captures Mayor Marty whose engaging, ego-free approach to high office has won the hearts of the people of Boston. He’s even been known to take the odd selfie! Belfast will hang out its brightest colours for his Homecoming.
The sister city relationship is hotting up with the Irish American Partnership board also due in Belfast at the end of August — you can read about their pioneering work for Irish schools in the Irish Echo – and Massachusetts State Senate President Therese Murray dropping by in mid-September while our own Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon will travel out to Boston in October.
But at Teach Basil, we are gearing up for the community launch of our Féile an Phobail supplement and details of our unprecedented online coverage of the West Belfast festival on Wednesday night. Among our special guests will be Terry Cross of Delta Print who is making a £40 ($61m) investment in his West Belfast operation. Terry’s success wouldn’t have been possible without orders from American corporates. The question for the Homecoming is how many other global companies can we encourage to bring business to Belfast so that we can build the peace with jobs. Terry is the pathfinder but others who provide an equally first-class product can follow in his footsteps. You can follow the Féile from 31 July at belfastmediagroup.com/feile and sign up for daily email updates.
Focal scoir: Many thanks to the organisers of the Belfast Pride Festival for presenting me with their Political Advocate accolade at their awards ceremony this week. No group of people is doing more to transform Belfast than the gay community; it’s a privilege to be in the company of such champions of change and positivity but to be recognised by them is a unbelievable honour. The Pride parade (next Saturday, 2 August) is my favourite parade in a city which has a lot of them. Treise libh.