Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has received an invitation from ‘Friendship City’ in the United States.
The Mayor, Alderman Noel Williams and the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Beth Adger MBE, have been invited to the borough’s ‘Sister City’ in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to attend an outdoor community dinner to mark Portsmouth’s 400th anniversary in August.
A letter to the borough council says:
“We will be remembering all of those who made a new life and new opportunities in what came to be called New England. These include dozens of ships filled with emigrants from Ireland and their descendants.
“We share an official Friendship City bond because of those threads of ancestry and because of our mutual determination to remember those who paved the path we follow.”
Speaking at a meeting of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council earlier this week, Ald Williams said:
“Last month, I was delighted to host a visiting delegation from the city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which has been twinned with Carrickfergus since 1993 and this year, they celebrate their 400th anniversary of its settlement of Europeans which occurred in 1623.”
He indicated a hotel in the American city is willing to provide free accommodation for part of the stay for the Mid and East Antrim Mayor, Deputy and two guests.
The Mayor went on to say a number of student, cultural and educational visits have taken place as part of the Sister City agreement, adding this invitation “offers an opportunity to re-establish ties between the two areas”.
Knockagh DUP Councillor Peter Johnston asked if the future Mayor would be “going as well”.
The Mayor said that would have to be established but the invitation is for himself and he asked Cllr Johnston if he had any objection.
Cllr Johnston commented the invitation “might have been one for the Sister City Working Group to consider”.
The Mayor replied: “I think time was our problem here but I will ask the chief (executive) to look into this before any decisions are made as I have declared an interest.”