The New York New Belfast conference sprung into life last week at the American Irish Historical Society on 5th Avenue with a mix of local and Irish talent warming the crowd for the day of discussion that lay ahead.
Daniel Dromm from New York City Council’s once all-powerful Irish caucus spoke for the host city and Wexford man Larry Kirwan of the iconic Irish American band Black 47 sang an ode to James Connolly.
West Belfast actress Geraldine Hughes read a poem she had written about life growing up in the Divis apartments there.
#NYNB17 Síbín with @colgan_sophie @geroildeen @jobyfox Mary O'Connor @AIHSNYC pic.twitter.com/ssxFc1OrsH— Aisling Events (@aislingevents) June 15, 2017
South Belfast Assembly Member and former Finance Minister for Northern Ireland Máirtín Ó Muilleoir thanked attendees for promoting the links between the two cities.
The following day the conference discussed efforts to increase the tourism in Belfast: whereas tourism accounts for 9% of the Republic of Ireland’s GDP, in Northern Ireland it is only 5%, meaning there is the potential for growth in the sector.
A second panel considered “Nurturing Talent in a Fast Changing World” which saw a number of young men and women from Northern Ireland, but living in New York, talk about their own experiences in the world of work.
A panel on Northern Ireland’s future post-Brexit featured a diverse range of views on the topic with pessimism represented alongside cautious optimism.
The conference concluded with a talk on urbanization with the various choices Belfast faces as its population continues to grow.