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US delegation in Belfast to visit key city developments and build on sister city links

Delegates from Nashville and Boston arrive in Belfast ahead of the Sister Cities summit. They are greeted by Lord Mayor Arder Carson and councillor Carole Howard (L).

Delegates from Nashville and Boston arrive in Belfast ahead of the Sister Cities summit. They are greeted by Lord Mayor Arder Carson, Deputy Lord Mayor Guy Spence and councillors Aileen Graham and Carole Howard. Photo by Aaron McCracken/Harrisons 07778373486

Delegates from Nashville and Boston arrive in Belfast ahead of the Sister Cities summit. They are greeted by Lord Mayor Arder Carson, Deputy Lord Mayor Guy Spence and councillors Aileen Graham and Carole Howard

Belfast City Council will welcome a delegation from Nashville and Boston to the city today to strengthen sister city links and create more investment, cultural and educational opportunities between the cities.

The delegates are in Belfast for two days before travelling to Dublin for the All Ireland and United States Sister Cities Summit 2016 which will celebrate all island connections with the US and the role these relationships have played in supporting sustainable economic growth in each region.  The summit which is hosted by Dublin City Council will also celebrate the 30th anniversary of Dublin’s sister city relationship with San Jose in California.

Lord Mayor Arder Carson will welcome the US delegation to Belfast and host a civic reception in City Hall tomorrow night.

He said: “It’s a great honour to welcome a delegation from our US sister cities of Boston and Nashville to Belfast and for them to see how the city has been transformed in recent years through major investment in the city’s landscape.

“It is important that we continue to nurture and develop our links with trade and investment, education and tourism for the benefit of our city and our people and use visits like this to profile Belfast in the international marketplace.”

The US visitors are taking part in a series of engagements in the city visiting key developments in recent years which include the Northern Ireland Science Park; Titanic Belfast; T13; Belfast Waterfront; Girdwood Community Hub and the Innovation Factory as well as finding out about US company investments in Belfast and further investment opportunities.

The Boston delegation will include State Senator Thomas McGee from Massachusetts Senate who served four terms in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and on the Democratic State Committee for over 30 years and Attorney Eugene O’Flaherty, Corporate Counsel for the City of Boston.

Among the Nashville delegates will be The Willis Clan, a family of 12 musicians and performers from Nashville who have their own TV series in the US.

Belfast is a sister city of both Boston and Nashville with the agreement aiming to build on business, tourism and academic links between each city.

Examples of initiatives underway as a result of the city’s sister city partnerships include supporting the Friendship Four games last year – the first ever ice-hockey college ice-hockey tournament to be played outside the US. 600 Bostonians and thousands of local spectators enjoyed the tournament which was also broadcast live in America and Canada to over 4 million homes.

Primary schools in Belfast have benefited from Irish American Partnership bursaries and academic partnerships have also been established between QUB and Georgetown University; UMASS Lowell and Fordham University (New York) and the Ulster University with colleges in New York and Washington.

The council is also currently exploring opportunities to jointly market the sister cities through its visitor and convention bureaus and staff exchanges as conference destinations.

The recent Boston Belfast Sister City Agreement was signed by both cities in May 2014 while the Nashville agreement was signed in 1994.

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