Simple Question: Where did HBO shoot A Game of Thrones?
The simplest answer is “Belfast”, but that’s not entirely accurate. Only a percentage of the shots were taken in Belfast and the rest were shot in Saintfield, Audley’s Castle, Banbridge, Parkgate, Downhill Beach, Magarahorn Quarry and the list continues.
I’m asking that we end the tendency for provincial thinking in Northern Ireland. I’ve seen this most recently with the number of regions (meaning: towns, counties) proposing their new strategies for the incumbent digital knowledge economy and with precious little thought about the bigger picture.
I have always championed the whole of Northern Ireland. I’ve been to every corner of the province and spoken to anyone who had a notion about the future economy and what I’m asking is an end to individual notions of regional advantage. This isn’t about Belfast any more than it is about Derry or Newry or Strabane. This is all about Northern Ireland.
We should be inclusive rather than exclusive. There is no part of Northern Ireland that is not a commuter region for any other part of Northern Ireland. You can get almost anywhere in the province within 90 minutes and you’re seldom more than 50 miles from the coast. We’re such a small region that it doesn’t make sense to promote our differences and borders.
So I’m asking of you, and more importantly the public sector and ALBs/NGOs:
- When talking about the new and shiny, refer to Northern Ireland rather than individual towns unless there is a very specific reason to be exclusive.
- Standardise the programmes and developments across the region. If something is happening in Derry, then it should be happening in Newry and Strabane (and Enniskillen and Dungiven).
- For equality of opportunity, centralise activities in central urban areas. This reduces the chance that any development is going to be on the “wrong side” of the city for a specific community.
And my justification for the above?
Have a look at the geographical distribution of digital businesses in Northern Ireland. There’s a big number beside Belfast but the much more interesting statistic is the number of areas which only have 1-2 businesses resident. They’re spread all over Northern Ireland.