This is what leadership looks like
Post yogurt-gate, how does Stormont win the affection and trust of the community? By showing leadership, methinks.
So what does leadership look like?
It looks like this: over 6,000 people from all traditions crammed into the Odyssey Arena on Saturday night to cheer on the most successful sporting franchise in Belfast, the stupendous Belfast Giants ice hockey heroes. Alone among Belfast sporting clubs, the Giants remain in European competition. Indeed, if successful next week, they could host the finals of the Continental Cup in Belfast in January 2015. The Odyssey Arena for Giants’ games is truly a shared space and in many ways it’s not about the hockey at all and all about building a better Belfast.
And it looks like this: on the first anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan, the Filipino community of Belfast gathered in the Tens Foundation shop on the Lisburn Road – where handcrafted products made in the Philippines are on sale — for an emotional reflection. The silver lining on the dark cloud of the merciless Typhoon Haiyan was that it brought the people of Belfast together with their Filipino neighbours to help in the relief effort. And that interaction not only benefited the people of the devastated town of Tacloban — where so many local Filipinos have relatives — but brought the people of Belfast to a greater understanding of the generosity and big hearts of all our ethnic minorities. Filipino leaders galvanised the community and started the work of rebuilding.
And it also looks like this: Next week, Tom DiNapoli, Comptroller of New York State (returned last week in the mid-terms) will come to Belfast to check on progress since his last peace building visit here in 2008. Among his many engagements across the city, he will meet with staff of local company Nisoft which has been funded through a $15m investment made by the Comptroller earlier this year in local equity firm Crescent Capital. But the highpoint of the Comptroller’s visit will be an address to the sold-out Aisling Awards in the Europa Hotel on 20 November. Established in 1997, the Aisling Awards salute the champions of the changing city and among the standout groups shortlisted this year are the Belfast Community Gospel Choir, the all-Ireland basketball champs of St Genevieve’s High School and Duncairn Cultural and Arts Centre. Three great examples of selfless leadership.
So that’s what leadership looks like. Now it’s up to Stormont to emulate it.