Northern Ireland’s centenary is a unique opportunity to commission a sports museum
In recent weeks we have heard lots of debate and disagreement around the pros and cons of marking the occasion and we have heard the usual constitutional bashing.
For me, whatever of the perspectives that are had concerning the political border which confirms two states on this island the commonality is our people, and those to connected to this place that we all like to call home.
I am proud of the achievements of our people, across a wide array of disciplines.
For me though we do not celebrate or honour success sufficiently in this place.
I believe the centenary of NI offers a unique opportunity to charter a way forward which unifies our people in common acknowledgment of our roots as Ulster men, women and children.
Is it beyond us to deliver a project which would have the potential of bringing our people together as well as positively selling Northern Ireland to the wider world?
I propose that work be commissioned to examine the potential for a regional sports museum to be built (potentially at lands within the Titanic Quarter) where there exists the necessary infrastructure to build such a facility and connect it to local visitors but also for those arriving internationally.
Over the years Northern Ireland and our people have punched well above our weight in terms of sporting success.
Whether that be road racing, horse racing and show jumping, golf, athletics, boxing, snooker, rugby, individual footballers we’ve produced, the talent within Gaelic football and hurling etc.
We are also home to other rich sports such as; handball, road bowls, rounders and we have a proud history of success and development opportunities for those competing in disability based sports and events.
In Joey Dunlop, George Best and Alex Higgins we have arguably the most naturally gifted in their respective sports.
But there are so many other iconic individuals and teams who have excelled over the last century, bringing joy and positivity to this place, our people and also helping position Northern Ireland’s place in the world, securing the respect and admiration of others along the way.
Such a museum could play host to preserving magical moments like the Dennis Taylor 1985 snooker final black ball finish, Mary Peters heroics on the track, Joey Dunlop and Jonathan Rea on the back of motorcycles, our Golfers winning majors, Ulster Rugby heroics, AP McCoy Champion Jockey, our warriors in the ring and the many special Ulster County and Club performances which saw successes at Ulster Provincial and all-Ireland level etc.
So my question is: do our leaders genuinely want to celebrate success and the achievements of the incredible people who make up this place?
If so then a golden opportunity to do something about it exists. Let’s not pass it up.
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