Sinn Fein Lord Mayor announces plan for Belfast

Belfast Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir has announced his plan for the city
Belfast Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir has announced his plan for the city

Sinead Morrissey has been appointed Belfast’s first Poet Laureate.

She will work with residents and write a series of poems about the city.

The academic at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) is the author of five poetry collections, winning British and Irish prizes for her work.

Her appointment was part of plans for the city’s future announced by Belfast lord mayor Mairtin O’Muilleoir today.

Roisin McDonough, Arts Council chief executive, said: “Sinead will bring poetry to all the people of Belfast, reflecting the creativity of women and their contribution to the historical and contemporary life and character of the city.”

She will focus on the “hidden Belfast” by working with ethnic minority groups in the city, the young and the vulnerable, helping demonstrate how together they join in making one city.

Great poets to have worked and studied in Belfast include Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley and Paul Muldoon. They took part in the Belfast Group poet’s workshop centred around Queen’s in the 1960s which helped put the city on the literary map before its slide into conflict.

Dr Morrissey is reader in creative writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre/School of English at Queen’s.

Her poetry collections include There Was Fire In Vancouver (1996), Between Here And There (2002), The State Of The Prisons (2005), Through The Square Window (2009) and Parallax, published this year.

Honours include the Patrick Kavanagh Award, the Rupert and Eithne Strong Award and the Michael Hartnett Poetry Prize. Her poem Through The Square Window was awarded first prize in the UK National Poetry Competition.

Between Here And There, The State Of The Prisons and Through The Square Window were shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize.

The lord mayor announced her appointment as he urged residents across the city to help build a peaceful future together while striving to create jobs.

“And of course in all our work we have to ensure that our working class communities enjoy a greater share of the peace dividend,” he added.

Highlights of the lord mayor’s future pledges include:

:: Leading a technology trade mission from Belfast to Silicon Valley in California later this year and hosting a business mission to Belfast from New York early next year;

:: Introducing regular engagements building confidence in the economy;

:: Inviting all mayors of towns and cities along the eastern economic corridor to join him in promoting cross-border economic development;

:: Working with the Somme Association and Royal British Legion to explore ways to pay respect to the unionist and nationalist dead of the First World War.

A civic forum will meet to discuss tackling poverty and there will be a series of awards to people doing outstanding work.

The mayor will display two major works celebrating the traditions of unionism and republicanism in Belfast and will promote the Irish language as “a shared treasure of all”.