HOW do we welcome a ten-year-old child from Syria to the city of Belfast?

As our city gets more diverse and people come here to seek refuge, Amal represents displaced and marginalised  people everywhere. The 12ft-high puppet is preparing to come to the city – a city that has suffered its own displacement. What kind of time will she have? She is the perfect combination of vulnerability and resilience and inspires emotions everywhere  she goes. Does she have a right to education, to a roof over her head, a future?

Her Belfast schedule is now out – and she could not be in the city without coming to West Belfast. On May 17 she is coming to Northumberland Street, where she will be walking along the peace line. She will be in Colin Glen for a ritual performance procession on Sunday, May 19, an event directed by Paula McFetridge 

We're told: "She will join the people of Belfast, laden with artefacts of memory and pain. Together, they trudge up the historic hill to an open pit, where ceremony and memorial combine, and the fragmented pieces of our past are laid to rest."

'If only it was so easy,' I can almost hear a few people mumbling as they read these words.

The event is non-ticketed and begins at 10.30am with car parking onsite.

At 2pm on the same day, Amal will be at Belfast's Iqraa Mosque and Arabic school in Dunmurry, where she will dance the traditional Dabke dance, which originates in the Levantine region which includes Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. This event is by invitation only, but there are many other opportunities to hook up with Amal.

Artsekta has done a great job with Des Kennedy of bringing all this together and we hope the city will change a wee bit more because of it.

Details of events and tickets are on 

Meanwhile, Colin Davidson's 'Silent Testimony' exhibition has opened in London at the National Portrait Gallery. The exhibition of eighteen portraits has moved people locally  and internationally and we hope it has the same impact in London.

Here's a really interesting opportunity for experienced musicians and bands: Showcase Scotland/Celtic connection 2025 has a call-out on Culture Ireland  for an opportunity to showcase your talents in front of a live audience next January. 

Celtic Connections was established in 1994 and is one of the leading festivals in the world, featuring folk and roots music and with more than 2,000 musicians from across the globe taking part in 300 events at 25 Glasgow venues over 18 days. Full details at