So today’s the day. Belfast hopes that the new Titanic Centre will do for Belfast what the Guggenheim Museum has done for Bilbao.
And not just Belfast. Southampton too – and of course Cobh in the far south of Ireland which was the final point of departure of Titanic on her voyage to America. Here in Ireland, it became something of a nostalgia-fest – an opportunity to revisit the story of Irish emigration to the US. I’m old enough to remember being taken to see the big ships calling in Cork Harbour and to get a flavour of what emigration meant in the 1950’s
You probably haven’t read the speech of President Michael D Higgins in Cobh. He is an elected President – but above politics. So this is in my view a brave and magnificent statement of what has happened in Ireland. No whimsy or nostalgia. Just a sharpness which shames other political and church leaders ..
‘We in our time have experienced the sense of crisis which occurs when something deemed unsinkable – in our case a speculative economy – is confounded not only by circumstance and error but by the hubris which accompanied belief in what proved to be an irrational version of the economic. In addition to those who are materially impacted by the crisis, it leads to a collective loss of confidence, a questioning of previously unchallenged assumptions and an erosion of trust in institutions. In the humbling aftermath of that crisis, there is not only an opportunity to learn but a requirement to reflect – to address the erroneous assumptions that led to failure, to mobilise support around an alternative vision for our Republic and to put ourselves on course for a future which is sustainable and embraces us all as equal citizens.’