International Peace Day in TQ, Sun 21st Sept @ 7pm at the Drawing Offices

Not wanting to sound too fancy or anything… but on behalf of the Lord Mayor of Belfast and I (ahem), a massive welcome to join us in the Titanic Quarter as Belfast plays its part in marking International Peace Day.


We’ll gather at 7pm at the beautiful old Harland and Wolff Drawing Offices (an experience in itself if you haven’t been inside before) for a performance from a combined Peace Choir.

IMG_7932Then we’ll proceed as the sun sets out onto the Titanic Slipways, where we’ll find the largest map of the Northern Hemisphere in the world (it’s marked on the paving around the Titanic Belfast building) and hold a candlelit vigil for the parts of that map currently suffering conflict or turmoil.

Practicalities: car parking is available in the open-air car park directly opposite the Drawing Offices, tea and coffee will be served at Dock Cafe, and bring a wooly jumper as we’l be heading outside whatever the weather!


(PS can anyone spot a little detail in that pic which betrays the fact that it’s a few years old?  More on the changing face of TQ next week!)

New Belfast

One of the cornerstones of Dock life is that we’re about hope, good news and all that is positive about our city – we want to be part of building the New Belfast.

photo-34So it was a great pleasure to invite the selfie-tweeting ex-Mayor with pink hair, Mairtin O’Muilleoir to our Sunday Night in Dock Cafe last week.  His hair is no longer pink, he has passed the Mayor’s blingtastic jewellery to his successor, Nichola Mallon (of whom more soon!), but he is still a formidable force for hope, life, change, optimism and joy in all that is good about Belfast.  With Mairtin, ‘New Belfast’ is not just his Twitter handle but his way of life.

2014-09-07 18.47.46In a candid and fascinating interview with Fr Martin Magill, Mairtin shared the joys of working together with faith communities (whom he found to be the people actually on the ground doing the lion’s share of practical care for the disadvantaged and disenfranchised of the city), forming the Lord Mayor’s team of Chaplains, promoting the  positive image of a New Belfast overseas, and being part of the formation of the ‘Prayer For Belfast’  (in which we all joined at the conclusion of his interview).

2014-09-07 18.58.14For someone who keeps claiming to not be religious, Mairtin certainly preached it… It was impossible not to get swept along by his love for the city, his optimism for its future, and his conviction that people of faith have a part to play… In his words, “This is a super city – it needs super churches more than Super Councils!”

And I’m happy to report that his love for the selfie has not diminished one iota!

The ‘new Belfast’ also manifested itself in an unexpected way last Friday in, of all things, the aftermath of the news of Ian Paisley’s death.

Screenshot 2014-09-17 21.10.12BBC reporter Chris Buckley was sent out around the city to film the reactions of its people (and a sterling job he did too)… He found, inevitably, some for whom Paisley could no wrong, and some for whom he could do no right.  And to give balance to the report, he wanted to interview some young people (and, er, me) in a new part of the city – the New Belfast to contrast with the old.  Where else, but to the Titanic Quarter, bathed in golden evening light, and to Dock Cafe, where a friendly cuppa awaited him! (even if it was slammed down on the counter rather over-enthusiastically – sorry about that):

What an unexpected honour to be part of a report that went out not just across NI, but on the national 10 o’clock news across the UK.  And to be aligned with the new city we’re building, where No is becoming Yes, where peace is taking root, where the past is a preface rather than a prison… the New Belfast.