The Irish proverb 'níl dlí ar an riachtanas', might literally be translated as 'there is no law on need' but perhaps is better understood in this era of pandemic, when the world has been turned on its head, as 'necessity is the mother of invention'.
For those of us who believe Ireland is a country of six million and a nation of 70 million, the Diaspora is the greatest ally we have.
I saw that clearly during the many bridge-building visits I made to North America during my term as mayor when, again and again, I was bowled over the genius, generosity and goodwill of those who had left Ireland, or whose forebears had left Ireland, and who were hungry to connect with 'home'.
Therefore, as I pondered what challenges to pick up when my mayoral year came to an end, I knew that I would like to create an event which would bring Belfast and the Diaspora closer together.
Thus was born the Belfast Homecoming-One City Conference which will run from 17-19 September in Belfast which will enable 50 members of the Disapora to join the conversation with 150 of our civic leaders about how to create a prosperous, united and diverse Belfast.
I was inspired by the success of the Gathering and the impact of the Detroit Homecoming in developing a way for expats to reconnect, re-engage, re-invest and rebuild Belfast. But it won't only be debate and dialogue, I also intend to celebrate the remarkable transformation of Belfast and raise a glass to the achievements of the Diaspora.
I'm delighted that Therese Murray, State Senate President of Massachusetts (whose ancestors are Harrolds from Ulster) will be in Belfast to kick off proceedings on 17 September and that the Titanic Drawing Rooms will host a Pop-Up Homecoming Banquet prepared by super chef Niall McKenna that evening.
We will bring together authorities across not only these islands but Europe and the US to discuss the next stage of Belfast's rise over the following two days, visiting every corner of the city.
In an increasingly dangerous world, we will spotlight the success of the peace process and discuss how partnerships with the Diaspora can provide the positive energy we need to push forward.
And the good news is that you are all invited to the Belfast Homecoming-One City Conference. Whether you're a Belfast expat (who will receive an especially heartfelt céad míle fáilte) or simply a member of the Diaspora who loves Ireland and wishes to see the peace we enjoy blossom, you'll find yourself at home courtesy of our famed hospitality. And let's build to bring 100 people home in 2015 and 150 in 2016 when our venue will be the newly-opened Waterfront Convention Centre in Belfast.
For emerging details, visit our conference website or email Connla McCann.
Beidh fearadh na fáilte romhaibh.
Before my recent Welsh wanderings, I was last seen in the company of Cymraeg activists back in 1985 when Gaeilge groups from Belfast led a fact-finding mission to our Celtic cousins. Highlight of that visit was a night of rock music – all in Welsh – in the bar of a one-street little town on the windswept and isolated Llyn peninsula.
When you’re young, everyone over 30 appears ancient, but it’s a fact that Brigid Hannon, who passed away this week, was of pension age when I first met her at the frontline of election campaigns in the eighties.
IT’S BAKING hot here in America. Expect, therefore, the price of your Weetabix to soar next year because in the mid-west of the US – the world's breadbasket – the wheat harvest has been decimated by a drought of biblical proportions.
Our Lord fell three times on the road to Calvary, so let's not be too disappointed that the youthful DUP Lord Mayor slipped up at full Council on Monday night. He was brought low by that most prickly of issues facing unionists: the Irish language.
As I write this, they’re promising us it will be quite a moment when Martin McGuinness, leader of Irish republicanism, shakes hands with Britain’s Queen, symbolic commander of their armed forces. Martin McGuinness lost many friends and comrades in the thirty-year war, while the British Queen lost her cousin, Lord Mountbatten, and hundreds of her soldiers.
There are a few places you don't want to find yourself when you've queued for an hour and finally come within two places of a worryingly stern immigration officer at the visa clearance hall in Newark Airport.
I got a taster of the rivalry to come at Euro 2012 on Tuesday at peace process talks in Dublin between negotiators from Transnistria and Moldova. The backstory: In 1990, when the USSR disintegrated and Moldova moved towards independence, the community of Transnistria (population 550,000) broke away and formed their own independent region. A brief but bloody war followed – claiming about 500 lives – until a ceasefire was brokered in 1992.
A decision at last week’s top committee at City Hall means we are moving inexorably to a place where Belfast City Council will be compliant with the law by removing the union flag from the Dome. There should be two flags, no flags or a civic flag flying from City Hall, but sadly only one flag has dominated the skyline in the century-plus since that imposing building went up in 1906.
THE NAME is awful and the artificial flowers and fish tank quite disconcerting, but fundamentally the E3 Belfast MET building at Springvale is a gamechanger for the city. Ducking the squalls this week, I joined Patricia Flanagan to view the spanking new facility on the Springfield Road peaceline. 20 years ago, there were promises – ultimately unfulfilled – to locate a university at this site in a dramatic move which would have turbo-charged the faltering economy of North/West Belfast. But this new facility, boasting a full TV and radio studio, an impressive renewable energies section and new-age work spaces for teams of students, is the bold initiative we've been waiting for.