Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Belfast’

From Hillsborough Castle to Stormont

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 17th May, 2008

One of the collateral benefits of Liberal International Congresses and Executives is the opportunity they provide to get to know new places round the world. Like most mainland Brits, I had never visited Northern Ireland, until I arrived in Belfast on Thursday morning. Being in Northern Ireland has certainly influenced the tone of some of the Congress debates, not least because the Congress hosts, David Ford of the Alliance Party, and his predecessor, (Lord) John Alderdice, have been so central to the process of negotation and reconciliation in the six counties.

The Congress is taking place in the Hotel Europa, which boasts the unusual distinction of being the most bombed hotel in the world (70 times), though mercifully such excitement is a thing of the past. On Thursday evening, there was a reception for the LI Executive at Hillsborough Castle, the Queen’s Northern Ireland residence, where the Secretary of State, Shaun Woodward, greeted us. He is, of course, used to living in comfortable surroundings, being the wealthiest of the defectors who left the Conservatives for New Labour. Then last night, we were entertained at Stormont, the Northern Ireland Assembly building built in the 1920s with all the pompous trimmings of a still imperial power. As John Alderdice was Speaker there at a crucial period in Northern Ireland’s development, he made the ideal tour guide.

Link: www.liberal-international.org

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