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Belfast’s big welcome mat for Homecoming

Howard Hastings, host of The Belfast International Homecoming and Chair of Visit Belfast.


By Maria McCourt

The premier league of business and investment conferences returns to Belfast this November and with it a team of high-flying champions for the city.

It will be “Game On” at Belfast Harbour and beyond as top scorers from the worlds of business, culture, education and politics fly in for the fourth Belfast International Homecoming which takes place between 28 and 30 November and this year incorporates the Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic.

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The global Irish diaspora are well aware of the importance of jobs and education in raising the bar for all our people and this year sports takes its rightful place in our elite line up as NCAA Division 1 college basketball returns to Belfast.

Event stalwarts such as our distinguished Legal Symposium, entrepreneurial and investment gatherings, gala banquet and disapora debates, will also be joined by some new kids on the block as we launch the inaugural Belfast Homecoming Ambassador Medal and introduce the Crossways Festival.

The Belfast Homecoming Ambassador Medal will recognize 50 outstanding individuals helping to build a better Belfast: members of our global family who have gone the extra mile for the city as well as the local heroes building international bridges to the diaspora. Our Belfast Ambassadors will be feted at a gala dinner in the Europa Hotel on Friday November 30th.

The Crossways Festival will take place alongside the Homecoming and will build on the success of the Festival in Glasgow in April this year.

A celebration of the diaspora cities of Belfast, Glasgow and New York, Crossways will feature an outstanding program of readings, performances and discussions, including a re-enactment of the Belfast speeches of famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass and a performance of Ode to Belfast by Paul Muldoon in the new Belfast Grand Central Hotel.

Just some of the big-hitters joining us at the Belfast International Homecoming Business and Investment Conference 2018 will be James Rooney, CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce; Lord Willie Haughey, Executive Chairman at City Facilities Management Holdings Ltd, Glasgow, and Mark Dowds, Co-Founder of Trov, San Francisco.

Senator Tim Kennedy of the New York State Assembly, Mary Sugrue, CEO of Irish American Partnership in Boston, and Marie Macklin CBE, Executive Chair of Macklin Enterprise Partnerships, Glasgow, will also be knocking it out of the park for the city of Belfast.

Connla McCann, director of Aisling Events, said the strength of the diaspora ties which have brought Belfast to its current success grow stronger every year and continue to reap benefits as those relationships are forged.

“This last year in Belfast has seen a raft of new hotels open their doors. U.S. businesses based in the city expanding and flourishing and the emergence of Belfast as a must see and must stay destination.

“Challenges remain as ever, but with the strength of our global family any goal can be achieved.”