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Belfast to welcome delegation of New York legislators to the city

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Date: 22 Sep 2022

Category: City regeneration and development

Chief Executive John Walsh, Deputy Lord Mayor Michelle Kelly and Clare Guinness Innovation District Director pictured at the launch of the Belfast International Homecoming 2022

New York legislators will travel to Belfast as part of the Belfast International Homecoming from September 27-29.

With the support of Belfast City Council, Ulster University and Hinch Distillery, Belfast International Homecoming will welcome over 20 business, civic and political leaders from the diaspora to the city in person for the first time in three years.

The New York delegation will travel to Belfast to learn about landmark city projects such as Ulster University’s new Belfast Campus, Innovation City Belfast and the transformative £1bn Belfast Region City Deal.

Delegation members include:

  • Assemblyman Mike Cusick, President of the American Irish Legislators Society and Chairman of the Energy Committee in the New York State Legislature.
  • Michael Meade, Group CEO of Sullivan’s Brewing Company, New York.
  • Sean Tenner, President of KNI Communications, Chicago.
  • Steve Lenox, Director of the New Jersey Ireland Center.
  • Jay Hart, Chief of Police Torrance, California.

The programme of events for Homecoming will culminate in a banquet dinner at the Titanic Hotel on Thursday 29 September, which will see the installation of a new cohort of Belfast Ambassadors who have been promoting the city globally.

New Belfast Ambassadors include:

  • Kerrie Sweeney, CEO of Maritime Belfast.
  • Kathryn Thomson, CEO of National Museums NI.
  • Raquel McKee, African Caribbean Society of Northern Ireland.
  • Elaine Smyth, Director of the Innovation Community at Catalyst.
  • Dr Victoria Manax, Chief Clinical Officer Immunicom Inc, USA
  • Edwin Donnelly, President New Jersey State Firefighters
  • Ken Walsh, CEO Alfond Youth Center, Portland, Maine, USA

Ballymoney-born businessman, Ian McLernon, President and CEO of the Rémy Cointreau, Americas will receive the Spirit of the Diaspora Award at the Banquet, where Finance Minister Conor Murphy MLA will make remarks and Mike Nesbitt MLA moderate a panel on ‘Belfast on the Rise’.  

Belfast Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Michelle Kelly said: “Belfast International Homecoming gives us an important opportunity to re-engage in person with some of Belfast’s many friends in business, civic society and government in New York.  We’re a signature city on the rise – and proud to be shining the spotlight on our innovation credentials and vast potential during the conference programme. 

“Our engagement in this event is part of our international positioning strategy to encourage further US investment and business partnership – and gives us the chance to recognise the sterling efforts of our colleagues who will be installed as Belfast Ambassadors. Promoting Belfast is very much a team effort – and we’re very fortunate to have developed a strong, collegiate approach to attracting investment and forging mutually beneficial links with our US partners and diaspora.”

Prof. Malachy Ó Néill, Director of Regional Engagement at Ulster University said: It is fantastic that Belfast Homecoming is once again able to open the doors of our city to the wider diaspora for the first time since before the pandemic. Belfast International Homecoming has always been an event which showcases the very best of Belfast and Ulster University is proud to play a strong role in developing our city and region. I look forward to introducing our guests both to the landmark new Ulster University campus, offering learning spaces at the forefront of higher education practice in the heart of Belfast and to the groundbreaking health technology and virtual screen production innovation projects that will further revitalise the region.”

Dr Terry Cross, Chairman of Hinch Distillery said: “Forging relationships and making connections is part of our human nature, it’s in our very fibre.  That’s why events such as Belfast International Homecoming are so important. They allow individuals to make connections and forge international partnerships that make a tangible difference to the city. 

“Belfast has a great deal to offer to businesses and this has already been recognised by American companies and suppliers in Europe. It has a wealth of talent, creativity and ambition and a strong track record of demonstrating how this can be applied to effect positive global change. The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of social networks and we are delighted that events like this can take place in person once again."

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