That bloody staircase

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As someone who has done a reasonable amount of travelling abroad down the years, I regularly lamented an absence of reasons for tourists coming to Northern Ireland and in particular to Belfast. At last, Belfast has come of age with a plethora of new attractions over the last decade, Belfast Waterfront Hall as the first serious manifestation of a new beginning in the city.

Since then the Ulster Museum has been beautifully reconfigured, complete with children facilities. The only deficit in the Museum is the absence of a quality bookshop.

Today we celebrate the opening of the MAC, a major exhibition/theatre space close to Saint Anne’s Cathedral. This comes hard on the heels of the New Lyric Theatre hanging over the river Lagan in Stranmillis. This is a world class theatre friendly and truly welcoming. Set this side by side with the restoration of the Opera House and the various concert facilities now available in the Belfast area like the Odyssey and we are well on our way.

Queen’s University recently unveiled multi sports facilities off the Malone Road and plans are in hand to upgrade Casement Park, Ravenhill and Windsor.

West Belfast is beginning to stand up as well. Conway Mill and the Cultúrlann afford that area of the city locations in which local people can express themselves.

Add to this Harcourt Development’s vision now realised in The Titanic Signature Building. There has been an unprecedented level of focus on that Signature Building but an error of judgement over access to the ‘staircase’ is being allowed to detract from the importance of this latest imaginative addition to Belfast’s life. Minister Arlene Foster has rightly told the Titanic management to sort out the staircase mess.

I have already pointed out that the Chairman of the Lyric Theatre, Mark Carruthers was adamant with his Board, that all seats would be the same price. Mr Carruthers told me this decision was informed by a sense of democracy and equality.

The Management of the Titanic Building has lost the war on the ‘staircase’ and should just reverse that selective divisive policy of access to that staircase. Anyone visiting Parliament Buildings knows immediately the importance of the staircase in the Great Hall. Visitors love getting their photographs taken on those steps and life carries on there in a very busy building.

So let us end the Titanic staircase fracas immediately so that the people who contributed and who helped bring about the complex can feel a real sense of ownership. By then, we will all be on the first step to the top.

 


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I am a regular contributor to discussion programmes on TV and radio both at home and abroad. An experienced political editor and author specialising in Politics, Security and 20th Century Art.

3 Comments

  1. gerard donaghy on

    Eamon. Listening to Arlene Foster on Sunday’s inside politics’ programme, she could have been the Titanic Belfast publicity spokeswoman [Ms Bradshaw], the way she parrotted the line about being frustrated at the fuss over a staircase, when AF knows well the real issue is the class dicrimination in the decision to deprive poorer visitors of a part of the exhibition.   

  2. @Mayor_Dunloy on

    Urm Mark Carruthers is not a MR or Mr. Carruthers thankyou Eamonn still waiting for our coffee together , good Vs evil over some brown stuff !

  3. I still can’t reconcile myself to the exploitation of the tragic deaths of 1,500 people and have to ask to what extent the di Caprio /Winslet romanticised storyline has contributed to this ‘celebration’.  Many moons ago when I was a young teacher in Luton, the film ‘A Night to Remember’ was shown on TV.  My pupils were so affected by it that we did a project on the Titanic.  The children wrote to Harland & Wolff to ask for more information but, not surprisingly, did not receive a reply. I later found out that H & W just did not talk about it then.

    Now for the embarrassment, I am one of the priviledged who will be taking part in a ceremony on the Grand Staircase in a few months’ time.  Let’s hope that the information supplied by one of my pupils in his letter doesn’t turn out to be prophetic.  “I would like to know more about the Titanic because my teacher comes from Belfast and she sank on her maiden voyage.”