By Sean Moynihan, President of Irish Network Boston on a recent visit by Belfast Mayor Mairtin O’Muilleoir.
If the level of energy of Belfast’s Lord Mayor is any indication, the north of Ireland is on the right track and doing extremely well. Not that it surprises anyone who has taken notice. Hosting companies like AllState, Liberty Mutual, CVS, Chicago Mercantile Exchange, NY Stock Exchange, Intel, Concentrix, and Citi; Belfast and the North are hosts to major blue chip American companies. Let’s not forget an incredibly successful City of Culture 2013 and 2013 All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann for Derry – a city that has consequently been at the forefront of world wide press for all the right reasons.
Some other interesting facts about the northern part of the country:
• One of youngest cities in Europe, almost 1 in 5 under 15;
• Biggest film production in Europe last year with $700m in Belfast, Game of Thrones;
• Biggest investment at university level in Europe – currently University of Ulster at $400m to create new campus in inner city;
• Biggest stadium development in Europe taking place in Belfast now with new Gaelic $120m stadium, soccer $45m, and Rugby $30m.
Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir is no stranger to the city of Boston. I have known and worked with him since 2007 when the Irish Echo first launched the Golden Bridges Awards Ceremony, which has become an annual event honoring the likes of Senate President Therese Murray, Lt Governor Tim Murray, Sister Lena Deevy and many others.
This visit, however, was of particular significance as he and our new Mayor Marty Walsh, who in just 3 months is making major positive changes for Boston, agreed in principle to a sister city arrangement that will most certainly prove mutually beneficial. Improv Asylum, a TMG client, which has grown in both Boston – Laugh Boston was launched under a year ago – and Ireland – IA Innovations was launched in Dublin; has begun initial conversations with Ó Muilleoir and others for a possible expansion in Belfast.
Boston has been just one of his many stops throughout the States and the world over for Ó Muilleoir over the past 10 months as he flies the flag for Belfast and the North. We had the pleasure of catching up at a breakfast sponsored by Invest Northern Ireland, under the successful leadership of all stars Gary Hanley and John Logan.
I will see the Lord Mayor this Summer in Belfast and then again in October for the annual Northwest of Ireland Conference and Golden Bridges award ceremonies. Something tells me there will be more positive news coming our way from across the Atlantic.