Northern Ireland’s never had it so good?

Leo Tolstoy began his novel Anna Karenina with the memorable assertion that “happy families are all alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Last night even the Belfast City Council was a fount of brotherly love. In the Bel Tel, Lindy McDowell has been counting the ways in which Northern Ireland’s been getting happier:

…cynicism may be missing the public mood. Because for once the public mood seems to be one confident step ahead of the eternal realists.

There aren’t many people here, for example, who didn’t get that wee jolt of shared pride at the accomplishments of our hat-trick of golfing heroes last year. Ditto the MTV awards. All of that made us look good.

This year we’ve got the Titanic centenary – finally we’re making something of our connection with that legend. And MTV will be back for that too – an endorsement in itself.

Then there’s the Irish Open. And now the All-Ireland Fleadh which we are assured will rake in somewhere in the region of £40m for the local economy.

So are we getting less and less like our old unhappy selves with every passing year?

  • HeinzGuderian

    Not to mention Stormont ging from strength to strength,and our Southern neighbours firm rejection of the shinners,things couldn’t be better. 😉

  • Billy Pilgrim

    James McClean and Darron Gibson are all set to make us proud in Poland this summer….

    (Lights touch paper and slinks away.)

  • galloglaigh


    The Shinners have upped their representation South of the border. To me, a rejection is something the UUP or Fianna Fail have been used to in recent years. Their vote has almost collapsed, while Sinn Fein’s vote is on the increase across the island. And indeed, Stormont is going from strength to strength, due to the nationalist electorate’s acceptance of the Sinn Fein strategy. It is due to people like Martin McGuinness, that our little parliament is going from strength to strength, and no doubt that really gets on your nerves!

  • Greenflag

    ‘So are we getting less and less like our old unhappy selves with every passing year?’

    Not at all .

    You lot (Unionists , Nationalists.Republicans , Loyalists etc ) are all born whining -live complaining and are destined to die disappointed . But progress has come dropping slow .The main thing is that you have all decided in the main to stop shooting each other which is to be welcomed .

    Now here are some ‘happy ‘people and all they got was a piece of paper . But lots of smiles and happiness all round .

    A great day for the new Irish and a reminder to the rest of us that Ireland will defeat Wales handily on Sunday 😉 Sorry Dewi .

  • FuturePhysicist

    Northern Ireland is losing jobs Mick, this isn’t a simple matter of War & Peace, small businesses are closing down and unemployment among young people is rising.

    Very detached reasoning from Linda here if she thinks young people want a big music event and a celebration of a sunken ship over a job. These events won’t provide many.

  • “So are we getting less and less like our old unhappy selves with every passing year?”

    The waves of love and hate ebb and flow; they’ll continue to break on the rocks of history.

    Does Lindy know something we haven’t been told? Surely the aforementioned Fleadh is in 2013, not 2012 – unless Cavan and Derry do a switch.

    Could the opening of the new Giants Causeway Visitor Centre – scheduled for the summer of 2012 – be a Royal event?

    2012 is set to be an amazing year in Northern Ireland with new, iconic visitor attractions, unprecedented events and historic anniversaries. Come and join us! .. Find out more.

  • [contd]

    Jim Allister has noted the absence of the signing of the Ulster Covenant in 1912 from NITB’s ‘historic anniversaries’ – see link on 10:42 post

    The Culture Company 2013 has responded positively to my suggestion on Jan 29 that BT should carry the City of Culture logo globally, not just on its BT in Northern Ireland site:

    We are on the same lines of thinking on this one and have proposed this to BT informally last year and formally on Tuesday. We understand that we are more likely to achieve this once the Olympics is over. We are definitely thinking big on this request. .. by email Feb 03

    I copied the suggestion to the political parties but haven’t yet had a response. Perhaps they don’t think big 🙂

  • “So instead of poking around looking for faults wouldn’t the sensible thing be to get out there and make the most of it?” … Lindy above

    Oh, I think we can and should do both. I often get ‘wow’ and ‘awesome’, or similar, from locals as well as my ‘transatlantic cousins’ as responses to my Facebook photo albums.

    I hope Lindy hasn’t been unduly influenced by press releases from Government and NITB. Jim Allister has been ‘poking around’ and discovered that ‘161 work in Stormont press and information offices’. I wonder how many political journalists there are to counter such an array of ‘good news’ and other specialists. I dare say the hospitality bill, paid for by taxpayers, will be equally significant.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Not bad for a statelet which relies on continual handouts
    to keep it from imploding including the largest per capita public service in the galaxy (maybe even the universe – PB might confirm this one).

    Anyway, can anyone explain this ongoing Titanic celebration thingy? ‘We built a ship that sank on its maiden voyage with hundreds drowned. Let’s keep reminding everybody.’ Is it to make sure nothing is ever built in Belfast again?

  • TS, things must be looking up when CCE, despite a few wobbles, can bite the bullet. An American delegate had this to say:

    In Ennis and Sligo towns you had the choice of two bastions of traditional music going back to the last century where there was no doubt the fleadh would be well looked after.

    But the third entry, the city of Derry (some may know it under another name) offered a historic choice as it would be the very first All-Ireland fleadh to be held in the six counties over the border.

    Progress rather than fear and negativity carried the day, and a firm resolve to make a huge cultural statement for the island of Ireland in 2013 as part of the UK City of Culture.

  • “Touristically speaking, 2012 is the equivalent of a very good hair day for Northern Ireland.” Lindy, Feb 2

    Strange that Lindy didn’t give a mention to a tourism first here:

    Foster welcomed delegates from the UKInbound Convention, the most important trade body within the UK Tourism sector, to a reception in the parliament buildings. It is the first time that Belfast has hosted this organisation’s convention. ..

    Foster told the delegates that Northern Ireland was entering an amazing year of opportunity, with various high-profile events planned under the NI2012, Our Time, Our Place campaign.

    The convention was held in the Europa Hotel on February 1-3. Will we all be going ‘wow’ and ‘awesome’ – and ‘amazing’ – before the year is out?

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Nevin, delighted Derry has the fleadh (my only reservation is that it will be the biggest place it has ever been in and it might get a bit lost in it – it usually works by taking over a town for a few days).

    Notwithstanding this (and the other feelgood events mentioned) shouldn’t disguise the fact that the Northern Ireland economy is inherently dysfunctional and will in all probability remain so as long as it exists.

  • 26th Jan 2012: Building Peace through Sport

    The Sport for Peace Building Project has three main themes – engagement, empowerment and legacy and will be specific to local needs within each Council area within the North East Cluster. The objective is to encourage people to become fully engaged in activities not normally associated with their community background, whilst using sport as a way to develop understanding of other cultures. This practical involvement in a safe environment will help build trust and challenge negative perceptions. ..

    The North East PEACE III Programme covers the six Council areas of Ballymena, Ballymoney, Coleraine, Larne, Limavady, and Moyle. ..

    “The aim is for participants to gain an appreciation of the different cultures which exist across the NE area. They will have the opportunity to join in sports and leisure activities not normally associated with their community background and engage in activities, which raise awareness and respect of other cultures.”

    Will it make a difference? Or will it just give ‘the great and the good’ an enhanced ‘feel good’ factor?

  • Owain

    NI never had it so good? It’s all relative; obviously. However, there does seem to be a chronic, robust theme of fatalism that does a fine job of weaving it’s way through NI narratives either way.

  • Greenflag

    @ TS ,

    ‘Notwithstanding this (and the other feelgood events mentioned) shouldn’t disguise the fact that the Northern Ireland economy is inherently dysfunctional and will in all probability remain so as long as it exists.’

    I hate to agree but you’re probably correct or at least the odds on a major economic revival given the current status quo must be very long indeed .

    And while I laud Derry having it’s Fleadh and Belfast having it’s Titanic centre it’s too much like ‘panis et circenses’ without meat and potatoes . As we approach the Dickensian (latest fad) bicentenary someone might say that for NI ‘It is the best of times and NOT the worst of times ‘ and for that folks should be for now at least grateful’

    The much bigger questions of economic and political viabilty can wait for another day for in this regard NI is not alone as states around the world some of them much richer and more developed than NI look for answers to the problems foisted on western societies by a financial capitalism ideology gone berserk this past decade or two .

    Nothing like a game of hurling or football or rugby or a traditional music session at a fleadh or a family visit to the Giant’s Causeway and it’s 60 million year old basaltic steps or the Titanic Centre to remind people of whats truly important eh :)?

  • FuturePhysicist

    NI never had it so good? It’s all relative; obviously. However, there does seem to be a chronic, robust theme of fatalism that does a fine job of weaving it’s way through NI narratives either way.

    Well fine jobs are hard to find here … frankly honest jobs are becoming hard to find here. Forgive me for being a malcontent.