AS much as I hate to admit it – the Titanic Quarter is working.
Harland & Wolff had many negative connotations for people in West Belfast and we couldn’t care less about preserving and celebrating the former ship yard because of its history of discrimination.
Its legacy has alienated one community and boosted the other. Adding to the insecurity in our identities.
When designed – the sceptic in me wanted the Titanic to go the way of the Millennium Dome. Because as a Lenadoonian, I have never seen Belfast as a balanced place and I wanted it to fail. But alas I have come round to the idea of purpose built mutual space.
There have only been two occasions when I truly felt proud to be from here and a citizen of an inclusive city. It was during the MTV European Music Awards and the Carl Frampton fight.
I was sitting in the café part of Ikea the day the pop stars arrived in their private jets. Munching on our Swedish horse balls, we wondered whom might be inside – was it Lady Gaga or Katie Perry? We were excited that the city we lived in – had A List celebrities arriving every minute.
Everyone was talking about the awards ceremony. Belfast had a brilliant atmosphere and was rammed with shoppers.
A few people I knew managed to get tickets without having to drop their dignity at those ‘scundered for ye’ auditions in the Waterfront. I knew lots of people who were working in the packed hotels or doing the bar or security in the Odyssey. The taxi drivers I knew were busy all night. The whole vibe was good. Economically we were doing well.
The overall feeling was the same on Saturday night.
There was not a ticket to be had and everyone was making plans to watch the Frampton fight. Taxi’s, bars, off licences, bookies were all doing a brisk trade. The atmosphere was electric. Even the bouts leading up to the main event were very good.
Sitting in my mate’s house in Beechmount with a Chinese and a carry out – it didn’t matter what background the boxers had. We only wanted to know which one was from here so we could cheer for them.
We laughed about Paddy Barnes’ attempt of stealing Carl’s limelight by tweeting a picture of them both in the run up to the big fight.
Deep down we knew that Carl is classed as a protestant from Tigers Bay and his wife a catholic from Poleglass and this could be the reason for the overall support they received from all over Ireland. That and the lack of flags and anthems accompanying the sport.
I already had a soft spot for the Frampton family when I saw this wedding picture last year. They are much more than just a catholic and protestant married to each other.
They recognise themselves as humans and offer us a glimmer of hope for a new Belfast without the barriers our elders had. Fair play to them.