Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Mayor and delegation return from busy trip to Nashville

Singer Dominic Kirwan tweets pic of his son meeting Belfast Mayor in Nashville

By Sue Doherty

Belfast’s Lord Mayor, Alderman Brian Kingston, has just returned from leading a delegation to Belfast’s Sister City, Nashville USA to coincide with World Trade Week.

During the trip, he met Colm Kirwin, son of popular singer Dominic Kirwan. After spotting a photo of the pair on Twitter, the proud father tweeted: "#proud to see my son @colmkirwan meet @BrianKingston in #nashville. Colm is certainly flying the flag for #irishentertainment  #countrymusic."

The purpose of the trip, which took place from May 15 to 20, was to develop trade, education and tourism links between Belfast and Nashville, as well as investment and partnership opportunities.

Mr Kingston said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the goodwill towards us, as we’ve sought to deepen our Sister City relationship with Nashville.

“We’ve held a series of very positive and productive meetings and we’ll be following up the strong potential for a wide range of collaborations and exchanges in the fields of business, law, culture, tourism, education, sport and government."

Promoting inward investment

In conjunction with World Trade Week, the mayor addressed meetings with the Tennessee District Export Council and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.

He told the Belfast Telegraph: "As a result we’ll be working with Invest NI to promote investment opportunities and potential collaborations with companies back home."

Alderman Kingston said it was "an honour to meet with the Mayor of Nashville, Megan Barry and to share some of the positive outcomes and potential arising from this visit".

He added: "It was also an honour to meet the Governor of the State of Tennessee, Bill Haslam, and to address a meeting on the Metropolitan Council of Nashville and Davidson County."

The delegation also had "very positive" meetings with the Ohio Valley Conference, representing 12 universities, the Country Music Association, the Music City Irish Festival, the Nashville Bar Association and have had further meetings on tourism, policing and employability training – all producing positive outcomes.

A special treat during the trip was a visit to The Grand Ole Opry, the world-renowned home of country music, where Aldlerman Kingston met with the entertainers backstage after the concert.

Looking ahead

He said: “We’ve been promoting the inward visit from Nashville to Belfast taking place again this October and look forward to welcoming a large delegation then.

"Nashville is our longest established Sister City relationship, going back some 22 years.

“There’s no doubt that this relationship has received renewed attention over recent years, with a strong desire from both cities to build a wide range of collaborations and connections which will build this special relationship for our mutual benefit.”

Also included in the delegation were Councillor Aileen Graham, Chair of the City Growth and Regeneration Committee, Alderman Guy Spence and senior council officers in Economic Development and International Relations, Lisa Toland and Frances Murray.

Many meetings were also attended by Invest NI representatives in North America, Aine Mallaghan and Michaela Murphy.

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