For seven years now, the Belfast International Homecoming has built bridges to our global family to create a better Belfast.

In that time, we have had some terrific allies and advocates from far-flung parts raise their voice for our city on the rise.

I was reminded of the brilliance of the Irish abroad when I sneaked into a pre-recording of the Homecoming Legal Symposium where civil liberties lawyer (and Covid vet) Niall Murphy was holding court with four exceptional legal figures: Professor Eilis Ferran of Cambridge University (via Beechmount Street), Lee-Anne Mulholland of Google who represented victims' families at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, freshly-minted Nevada Young Lawyer of the Year and QUB grad Bronagh Kelly, and Prof Jack Anderson of Melbourne University, Australia, a native of Limerick who cut his legal teeth in Belfast.

We travelled 20,000 miles in 30 minutes in a session which spanned early-morning in Melbourne and early-afternoon on the west coast of America. In Cambridge, as in Belfast, it was the witching hour. 

Conferences in the age of Covid are a bit like great Scottish whiskies - no two are the same but no one can tell the difference. With our online gatherings, half the sessions are pre-recorded but no one can tell which half. So I've let the cat out of the bag in regard to the legal eagles confab but, believe me, it's not to be missed and goes out at 1pm on Thursday 1 October.

Then you can tune in on Thursday 1 October from 6pm and throughout the day on 2 October to catch our deliberations on the theme of coming back stronger and better from this awful pandemic. 

Our motto for the event will be We Are Team Belfast which will involve a shout-out to the diaspora but to also a deep bow to those from other places who have made Belfast their home.

GLOBETROTTER: Niall Murphy and panellists in full flow

GLOBETROTTER: Niall Murphy and panellists in full flow

They too are standout ambassadors for our wounded city. At a time when the coronavirus epitomises isolation, it's a delight to salute those who build community and contribute to the work in progress which is a diverse, tolerant and giving Belfast.

You will get to meet them all on the opening night of the Homecoming but they include some heroes of mine: Children's Commissioner Koulla Yiasouma, burns consultant at the Royal who worked with the Omagh bomb victims Khalid Khan, Dr Satish Kumar of Queen's who has diligently tracked the revolutionary bonds between India and Ireland, and Barbara Snowarska who is the dynamo behind the Polish schools of Belfast. 

Under the thumb of Covid, we have grown to appreciate all that is on our doorstep more than ever. Let that extend to our neighbours - in a world full of wonderful locations, they decided to make their home on our patch, making it, in the process, immeasurably richer. 

Registration for the Belfast International Homecoming, in association with chief business partner Bazaarvoice, is free but attendees are encouraged to donate £10 to the Community Foundation NI Coronavirus Appeal.