Connecting Canada and Belfast
Four cities in four days sees us on our way to the North American city with the strongest connection with the great city of Belfast: Toronto.
Almost everyone I meet at home has a relative in Toronto, a result not only of previous centuries of emigration but also of the exodus of the ’50s and ’60s which saw many of our people set out for a new life in Canada. (And I know that of which I speak: my Aunt Celine will be meeting up with me in Toronto and bringing along her three sons who I haven’t seen in four decades.)
On their arrival in Canada, Belfast emigrants they found a warm welcome both for the Ulster work ethic and the famed Irish charm (I am still seeking both) and many went on to build prosperous careers and successfully raise families in their adopted country.
It will be a pleasure therefore to address an audience of Toronto ex-pats and civic leaders at the invitation of the Ireland Fund of Canada, Tourism Ireland and Irish Ambassador Ray Bassett, a former Belfast resident himself.
My focus will be on business and tourism, a new direct flight from Toronto to Dublin starts from April 2014, giving us a great opportunity to renew our connections with Canada.
Over the past few days, I have been trying to win inward business missions to Belfast and was delighted that our friends Shaun Kelly of KPMG and Kieran McLaughlin of the American Ireland Fund were able to host a Park Avenue breakfast for me yesterday to seal the deal on the first-ever Ireland Fund-endorsed biz mission to Ireland next February. That this groundbreaking initiative will focus on Belfast is a coup for the city.
Among the high-flyers at that breakfast was the man who made the bird fly: Duncan Niederauer, CEO of NYSE Euronext, who had successfully overseen the float of Twitter on Wall Street the previous day.
A CEO in global demand, Duncan’s decision to spend the morning after the Twitter frenzy in promoting Belfast is testament to the man and to his commitment to the NYSE operation in Belfast where 300-plus people are employed.
There is much more happening but for now, as Belfast remains in the stewardship of all those at home who are keeping the faith in a prosperous and peaceful future, I am leaving Pearson Airport in Toronto and heading downtown to address a gathering of Irish leaders and tourist industry representatives. Let’s make sure Belfast is on their business radar and on their travel map.
(P.S. I hear you asking is my Mo any less likely to scare children. You can judge for yourself in this picture with Duncan but suffice to say that when I asked the famously moustachioed Det Brian McCabe in New York for advice, he said “shave”. You can still donate to my Movember fundraiser for PIPS suicide prevention charity at www.justgiving.com/momayor)