The city of Boston is further bolstering its already strong hereditary ties to Northern Ireland by forging an official partnership with the city of Belfast, the Office of Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced Monday morning.
Belfast Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir and Walsh made things official at a breakfast at the Seaport Boston Hotel.
The Sister City agreement is the first for Boston since 2001’s partnership with Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana.
Walsh issued a brief statement.
"Together, Boston and Belfast will strive to foster educational exchanges, promote cultural understanding, and stimulate economic development through our new Sister City relationship. We look forward to new beginnings with our 'sister' Belfast, as this formal agreement goes far beyond a declaration on ink on paper; it truly speaks to our historic connection, genuine ties, and deeply linked heritage."
Kate Norton, Walsh’s press secretary, told Boston.com that the agreement between Belfast and Boston had been in the works for a couple of months.
“Belfast Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir had been in Boston in March. That is when he and Mayor Walsh began exploring a partnership that came to fruition today,” Norton said.
Norton said the agreement had nothing to do with the recent developments surrounding Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams’ arrest and subsequent release in Northern Ireland following four days of questioning in connection with the abduction and murder of Jean McConville.
The partnership is intended to identify, promote, and create “new initiatives to further nurture economic, social, cultural and faith based relationships” between the cities, among other goals.
"Belfast and Boston share enduring links of history and heritage over many years and they will now provide the foundation for a new future-focused Sister City relationship between Boston -- the colleges, life-sciences and Irish American capital of America -- and Belfast -- the fastest-growing knowledge economy of Europe, birthplace of the Titanic, home of Game of Thrones and a world-leader in peace building," said Lord Mayor Muilleoir.
Past “Sister City” agreements for Boston include Kyoto, Japan in 1959; Strasbourg, France in 1960; Barcelona, Spain in 1980; Hangzhou, China in 1982; Padua, Italy in 1983; Melbourne, Australia in 1985; and Taipei, Taiwan in 1966.