Sister Cities and Swan Songs
We’re now in the market for an anthem which epitomises the verve and vision of our new Boston-Belfast alliance — signed by Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston and myself on Monday last in Boston at a ceremony in the Seaport Hotel hosted by the Irish American Partneship. (Irish America’s greatest journalist Kevin Cullen caught the mood well in his Boston Globe column.)
I’m Shipping Up To Boston by the Dropkick Murphys certainly captures the energy and dynamism of our partnership while our own Van Morrison’s Bright Side of the Road speaks to the determination of our peoples to push towards the light.
Whatever the choice, what’s certain is the great cities of Boston and Belfast are now singing from the same hymn sheet. The citizens, colleges, businesses and cultural institutions of both cities will now make common cause to enhance the potential of our new relationship as Sister Cities.
Mayor Walsh, a longstanding friend of Ireland and of Belfast and a steadfast ally of the peace process last visited Belfast with the Boston Bruins in 2010. His commitment to building the peace is underlined by the speed with which he moved to seal this Sister Cities agreement just five months after he took office. The people of Belfast will similarly prioritise this new pact to ensure that Belfast is the first port of call for Boston companies keen to invest in Europe and for Bostonians planning a visit to Ireland. But above all else, this will be a people’s partnership. Let a thousand new connections between Boston and Belfast blossom.
I returned from my 28-hour visit to the capital of Irish America to engage in another burst of engagements which celebrate the huge strides forward taken by Belfast in recent years. Chief among those was a thank you event for our wonderful Belfast Poet Laureate Sinéad Morrissey, who leaves office in 14 days. Her one-year tenure was made possible by Moviehouse Cinemas, the Arts Council and Arts and Business and appropriately her swan song took place in a picturehouse. Sinéad has been a marvellous ambassador for the power of poetry, helping Belfast fall madly in love again with the poet’s alchemy of words.
A busy week lies ahead as I too get ready to sign off. On Thursday I will bid for election to the new Belfast super council while Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson seeks to continue her service in the European Parliament. Here’s wishing all the candidates right across Belfast the best of luck as they cast themselves on the mercy of the electorate! Ádh mór oraibh uilig.