Belfast International Homecoming Conference Launched

Businesses Tapping into Diaspora Relationships are Knocking on an Open Door

Irish American political and business leaders are poised to strengthen their bonds with Belfast post-Brexit.  This was the message from senior New York politicians visiting Belfast ahead of next month’s Belfast International Homecoming conference.

Assemblyman Mike Cusick, President of the American Irish Legislators Society of the New York State Legislature said, “We were first invited to take part in the Belfast Homecoming in 2013, to find out more about the city’s transformation in the wake of the Good Friday Agreement.  

“We have been coming back since that first visit to ensure that the bridges of commerce, community and culture are strengthened, regardless of the threat of Brexit or ongoing political difficulties.  I am delighted to be leading a 40-strong delegation to Belfast as part of our latest fact-finding tour across the island.  Now as an Honorary Chair of the Homecoming, and along with many of my colleagues in the State Legislature, we consider ourselves as proud ambassadors of the new Belfast.”

The focus of the consortium’s research will assess the needs of different maritime locations, a major freight and transport port like Belfast Harbour, a smaller leisure port like Bangor Marina and a remote island such as Rathlin.

Low carbon solutions will include battery energy storage to support the charging of electrified vessels and freight handling, green hydrogen production and bunkering, shore-side electrical grid infrastructure for freight handling and renewable energy supply.

William Steele, Director of Customer Solutions at Power NI said:

“Given the diverse nature of its business, Belfast Harbour has a unique opportunity to help Belfast fulfil its potential. Achieving that requires a partnership approach to enhance the city’s skill base and develop new markets. It also means building relationships beyond these shores and the Belfast International Homecoming conference provides a great way to harness the goodwill and interest of the North American diaspora.”  

Representatives of 30 North American bodies from key locations including Boston, New York City, Montana, Chicago and Toronto are expected in the city next month.

The conference’s three days of events will include a tourism breakfast, an international Legal Symposium hosted by the Law Society of NI, a Banquet in Belfast City Hall and the Be the Bridge Business and Investment Conference at Belfast Harbour Commissioners’ Office.  A new addition to this year’s event will be a showcase of Northern Ireland’s rising talent, when 12 pioneering young people will be named as Belfast Homecoming Young Ambassadors.

Conference delegate, Conor McCoy, who is First Vice President at Wells Fargo Advisors in New York said, “I grew up in Belfast, so my family connection creates affection and a desire to support the city’s progress.  From a business perspective there are so many new opportunities being provided in sectors such as tourism and technology. The Belfast International Homecoming is a great opportunity to give the city the exposure it deserves.  The “Be the Bridge” theme is particularly apt as the Irish-American community has a powerful interest in maintaining links to home.  I look forward to returning and building on those relationships.”

For all conference information and ticket bookings visit