Belfast

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Posted by bender 04/04/2009 @ 19:09

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Starlets on song in Belfast - SkySports
James DeGale, Frankie Gavin and Billy Joe Saunders impressed as all three won inside the distance in Belfast on Friday night. DeGale went a long way to silencing his critics with an explosive first round knock-out of Czech Jindrich Kubin....
PSNI investigate assault on elderly woman - Irish Times
Detectives in the north are today hunting for a man who allegedly raped a 62-year-old woman in her north Belfast home. The man forced his way in to his victim's house in the Cliftonville Road area of the city after knocking on the door at around 3am...
Ford assumes $163 million asset-based loan for Visteon - Reuters
By David Bailey DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co has assumed a $163 million secured revolving credit facility from lenders to US auto parts maker Visteon Corp, one of its biggest suppliers, Visteon said in a regulatory filing on Friday....
Rogan rocked by Sexton - SkySports
New Commonwealth heavyweight champion Sam Sexton silenced the Odyssey Arena with a sensational stoppage victory over Martin Rogan in Belfast. The fascinating heavyweight contest was stopped deep into the eighth round when the ringside doctor deemed...
Police hunt for missing prisoner - BBC News
Colin Paul King, 31, was working in west Belfast on a pre-release scheme when he went missing on Thursday. He is described as being of slim build, 5ft 4ins tall and with brown hair. When last seen he had a 'goatee' beard and had earrings in both ears....
Belfast to make Monopoly decision - BBC News
Belfast could be the next city to get a version of the board game Monopoly. Games company Winning Moves UK has applied to Belfast City Council for permission to use some of the city's most famous landmarks. Council sites requested for inclusion on the...
Belfast's lines redrawn - Irish Times
Photographs: David Sleator Taking the violent, sectarian content out of wall paintings is an admirable aim, but can Belfast's mural culture survive being cleaned up for a different era, asks NEIL CARNDUFF . UNTIL 10 YEARS ago, interfering with...
Graduate skills investment in Northern Ireland needed for graduate ... - Pareto
Writing in the Belfast Telegraph, John Simpson recommended investing in skills needed for trades such as transport, agriculture, construction and retail, which many graduates lack. Mr Simpson, analysing a report by Oxford Economics (OE), supported by...
Paxman: from new boy in Belfast to award winner - Belfast Telegraph
By Eddie McIlwaine Jeremy Paxman, the grand inquisitor of Newsnight, is reflecting on the four years he spent learning his journalistic trade at Broadcasting House in Belfast. And it is all down to Robin Walsh, who as BBC Northern Ireland news editor...

Belfast

Belfast is located in Northern Ireland

Belfast (from the Irish: Béal Feirste meaning "Mouth of the (River) Farset") is the capital city of Northern Ireland and the seat of devolved government and legislative assembly in Northern Ireland. It is the largest urban area in the Irish province of Ulster, and the second largest city on the island of Ireland. The City of Belfast has a population of 267,500, and lies at the heart of Greater Belfast, which has a population of 483,418. Belfast was granted city status in 1888.

Historically, Belfast has been a centre for the Irish linen industry, tobacco production, rope-making and shipbuilding: the city's main shipbuilders, Harland and Wolff, which built the ill-fated RMS Titanic, propelled Belfast on to the global stage in the early 20th century as the largest and most productive shipyard in the world. Belfast played a key role in the Industrial Revolution, establishing its place as a global industrial centre until the latter half of the 20th century.

Today, Belfast remains a centre for industry, as well as the arts, higher education and business, is a legal centre of the United Kingdom, and is the economic engine of Ulster. The city suffered greatly during the period of disruption, conflict, and destruction called the Troubles, but latterly has undergone a sustained period of calmness and substantial economic and commercial growth. Belfast city centre has undergone considerable expansion and regeneration in recent years, with the newly developed Victoria Square area attracting international attention.

Belfast is partially composed of seven "quarters", each dedicated to reflect the history of the city. It was first said at the Ireland-US Council that Belfast was once a city of two halves, but is now a city of seven quarters. The historic heart of Belfast, the Cathedral Quarter, has also seen substantial regeneration in recent years, and is seen as a sign of the resurgence of the City's cultural heritage.

Belfast is served by two airports: Belfast International Airport to the north-west of the city, and George Best Belfast City Airport in the east of the city.

Belfast is also a major seaport, with commercial and industrial docks dominating the Belfast Lough shoreline, including the famous Harland and Wolff shipyard.

Belfast is a constituent city of the Dublin-Belfast corridor with a population of 3million, comprising of half the total population of the island of Ireland.

Although the county borough of Belfast was created when it was granted city status by Queen Victoria in 1888, the city continues to be viewed as straddling County Antrim and County Down.

The name, Belfast, is the anglicised version of the Irish Béal Feirste, which translates as "Mouth of the (River) Farset". This term refers to the sand bar that formed where the River Farset met the River Lagan at what is now Donegall Quay and flowed into Belfast Lough, which became the hub around which the city developed.

The site of Belfast has been occupied since the Bronze Age. The Giant's Ring, a 5000-year-old henge, is located near the city, and the remains of Iron Age hill forts can still be seen in the surrounding hills. Belfast remained a small settlement of little importance during the Middle Ages. John de Courcy built a castle on what is now Castle Street in the city centre in the 12th century, but this was on a lesser scale and not as strategically important as Carrickfergus Castle to the north, which was built by de Courcy in 1177. The O'Neill clan had a presence in the area. In the 14th century the Clan Aedh Buidh, descendants of "Yellow" Hugh O'Neill built Grey Castle at Castlereagh, now in the east of the city. Conn O'Neill also owned land in the area, one remaining link being the Conn's Water river flowing through east Belfast.

Belfast became a substantial settlement in the 17th century after being established as a town by Sir Arthur Chichester, which was initially settled by Protestant English and Scottish migrants at the time of the Plantation of Ulster. (Belfast and County Antrim, however, did not form part of the Plantation scheme.) In 1791, the Society of United Irishmen was founded in Belfast, after Henry Joy McCracken and other prominent Presbyterians from the city invited Theobald Wolfe Tone and Thomas Russell. to a meeting, after having read Tone's "Argument on Behalf of the Catholics of Ireland". Belfast blossomed as a commercial and industrial centre in the 18th and 19th centuries and became Ireland's pre-eminent industrial city. Industries thrived, including linen, rope-making, tobacco, heavy engineering and shipbuilding, and at the end of the nineteenth century, Belfast briefly overtook Dublin as the largest city in Ireland. The Harland and Wolff shipyards became one of the largest shipbuilders in the world, employing up to 35,000 workers. Belfast was heavily bombed during World War II. In one raid, in 1941, German bombers killed around one thousand people and left tens of thousands homeless. Outside of London, this was the greatest loss of life in a night raid during the Blitz.

Belfast has been the capital of Northern Ireland since its establishment in 1921 following the Government of Ireland Act 1920. Since its emergence as a major city, it had been the scene of various episodes of sectarian conflict between its Roman Catholic and Protestant populations. These opposing groups in this conflict are now often termed republican and loyalist respectively, although they are also referred to as 'nationalist' and 'unionist'. The most recent example of this is known as the Troubles - a civil conflict that raged from c.1969 to the late 1990s. Belfast saw some of the worst of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, particularly in the 1970s, with rival paramilitary groups forming on both sides. Bombing, assassination and street violence formed a backdrop to life throughout the Troubles. The Provisional IRA detonated twenty-two bombs, all in a confined area in the city centre in 1972, on what is known as "Bloody Friday", killing nine people. Loyalist paramilitaries, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and Ulster Defence Association (UDA) claimed that the murders they carried out were in retaliation to the PIRA campaign. Most of their victims were Roman Catholic civilians entirely unconnected to the Provisional IRA. A particularly notorious group, based on the Shankill Road in the mid 1970s became known as the Shankill Butchers. In all, over one thousand five hundred people were killed in political violence in the city from 1969 until 2001. Part of the legacy of the Troubles is that both republican and loyalist paramilitary groups in Belfast have become involved in organised crime and racketeering.

Belfast was granted borough status by James I in 1613 and official city status by Queen Victoria in 1888. Since 1973 it has been a local government district under local administration by Belfast City Council. Belfast is represented in both the British House of Commons and in the Northern Ireland Assembly. For elections to the European Parliament, Belfast is within the Northern Ireland constituency.

The city of Belfast has a mayoral form of municipal government. The City's officials are the Lord Mayor, Deputy Lord Mayor and High Sheriff who are elected from among fifty-one councillors. The first Lord Mayor of Belfast was Daniel Dixon, who was elected in 1892. As of June 2008, the Lord Mayor of Belfast is Sinn Féin politician, Tom Hartley, who is only the second Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of the city. His duties include presiding over meetings of the council, receiving distinguished visitors to the city, and representing and promoting the city on the national and international stage. Hartley replaces the Ulster Unionist Party Lord Mayor, Jim Rodgers OBE.

In 1997, Unionists lost overall control of Belfast City Council for the first time in its history, with the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland gaining the balance of power between Nationalists and Unionists. This position was confirmed in the council elections of 2001 and 2005. Since then it has had three Nationalist mayors, two from the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and one from Sinn Féin. The first nationalist Lord Mayor of Belfast was Alban Maginness of the SDLP, in 1996.

In the 2005 local government elections, the voters of Belfast elected fifty-one councillors to Belfast City Council from the following political parties: 15 Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), 14 Sinn Féin, 8 SDLP, 7 Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), 4 Alliance Party, 2 Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), and 1 Independent (a former deputy mayor who takes the UUP whip was a member of the defunct Loyalist paramilitary linked, Ulster Democratic Party).

As Northern Ireland's capital city, Belfast is host to the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont, the site of the devolved legislature for Northern Ireland. Belfast is divided into four Northern Ireland Assembly and UK parliamentary constituencies: North Belfast, West Belfast, South Belfast and East Belfast. All four extend beyond the city boundaries to include parts of Castlereagh, Lisburn and Newtownabbey districts. In the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections in 2007, Belfast elected 24 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs), 6 from each constituency. The MLA breakdown consisted of 8 Sinn Féin, 6 DUP, 4 SDLP, 3 UUP, 2 Alliance Party, and 1 PUP. In the 2005 UK general election, Belfast elected one MP from each constituency to the House of Commons at Westminster, London. This comprised 2 DUP, 1 SDLP, and 1 Sinn Féin.

The city of Belfast has the Latin motto "Pro tanto quid retribuamus". This is taken from Psalm 116 Verse 12 in the Latin Vulgate Bible and is literally "For (Pro) the much (tanto) what (quid) we shall repay (retribuamus)" The verse has been translated in different bibles differently - for example as "What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?". It is also translated as "In return for so much, what shall we give back?" The Queen's University Students' Union Rag Week publication PTQ derives its name from the first three words of the motto.

The city's coat of arms shows a central shield, bearing a ship and a bell, flanked by a chained wolf (or wolfhound) on the left and a seahorse on the right. A smaller seahorse sits at the top. This crest dates back to 1613, when King James I granted Belfast town status. The seal was used by Belfast merchants throughout the seventeenth century on their signs and trade-coins. A large stained glass window in the City Hall displays the seal, where an explanation suggests that the seahorse and the ship refer to Belfast's significant maritime history. The wolf may be a tribute to the city's founder, Sir Arthur Chichester, and refer to his own coat of arms.

Belfast is situated on Ireland's eastern coast at 54°35′49″N 05°55′45″W / 54.59694°N 5.92917°W / 54.59694; -5.92917. The city is flanked to the northwest by a series of hills, including Cavehill, which is thought to be the inspiration for Jonathan Swift's novel, Gulliver's Travels. Belfast is located at the western end of Belfast Lough and at the mouth of the River Lagan making it an ideal location for the shipbuilding industry that once made it famous. When the Titanic was built in Belfast in 1912, Harland and Wolff had the largest shipyard in the world. Belfast is situated on Northern Ireland's eastern coast. A consequence of this northern latitude is that it both endures short winter days and enjoys long summer evenings. During the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, local sunset is before 16:00 while sunrise is around 08:45. This is balanced by the summer solstice in June, when the sun sets after 22:00 and rises before 05:00.

Belfast is located at the eastern end of Belfast Lough and at the mouth of the River Lagan. In 1994, a weir was built across the river by the Laganside Corporation to raise the average water level so that it would cover the unseemly mud flats which gave Belfast its name(from the Irish: Béal Feirste meaning "The sandy ford at the river mouth"). The area of Belfast Local Government District is 42.3 square miles (110 km²).

The River Farset is also named after this silt deposit (from the Irish feirste meaning ‘sand spit’). Originally a more significant river than it is today, the Farset formed a dock on High Street until the mid 19th century. Bank Street in the city centre referred to the river bank and Bridge Street was named for the site of an early Farset bridge. However, superseded by the River Lagan as the more important river in the city, the Farset now languishes in obscurity, under High Street.

The city is flanked on the north and northwest by a series of hills, including Divis Mountain, Black Mountain and Cavehill thought to be the inspiration for Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels. When Swift was living at Lilliput Cottage near the bottom of the Limestone Road in Belfast, he imagined that the Cavehill resembled the shape of a sleeping giant safeguarding the city. The shape of the giant's nose, known locally as Napoleon's Nose, is officially called McArt's Fort probably named after Art O'Neill, a sixteenth century chieftain who controlled the area at that time. The Castlereagh Hills overlook the city on the southeast.

Former poet and Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor, Dr William Philbin wrote this of Belfast: "Belfast is a city walled in by mountains, moated by sees, and undermined by deposits of history".

Belfast has a temperate climate. Average daily high temperatures are 18 °C (64 °F) in July and 6 °C (43 °F) in January. The highest temperature recorded in Belfast was 30.8 °C (87.4 °F) on 12 July 1983. The city gets significant precipitation (greater than 0.01 in/0.25 mm) on 213 days in an average year with an average annual rainfall of 845.8 millimetres (33.3 in), less than the Lake District or the Scottish Highlands, but higher than Dublin or the south-east coast of Ireland. As an urban and coastal area, Belfast typically gets snow on fewer than 10 days per year. The city is also renowned for how warm it can get during the winter month at its high latitude. In February, temperatures have hit 17 °C, at the same latitude where it is ~-45 °C in Russia and Canada. It is not uncommon for temperatures in summer to reach as high as 27 °C (80 °F) on numerous days. The consistently humid climate that prevails over Ireland can make temperatures feel uncomfortable when they stray into the high 20s (80-85°F), more so than similar temperatures in hotter climates in the rest of Europe.

Belfast expanded very rapidly from market town to industrial city during the course of the nineteenth century. Because of this, it is less an agglomeration of villages and towns which have expanded into each other, than other comparable cities, such as Manchester or Birmingham. The city expanded to the natural barrier of the hills that surround it, overwhelming other settlements. Consequently, the arterial roads along which this expansion took place (such as the Falls Road or the Newtownards Road) are more significant in defining the districts of the city than nucleated settlements. Including the city centre, the city can be divided into five areas with north Belfast, east Belfast, south Belfast, and west Belfast. Each of these is a parliamentary constituency. Belfast remains segregated by walls, commonly known as “peace lines”, erected by the Army after August 1969, and which still divide fourteen neighbourhoods in the inner city. In 2008 a process was proposed for the removal of the 'peace walls'. In June 2007, a UK£16 million programme was announced which will transform and redevelop streets and public spaces in the city centre. Major arterial roads (quality bus corridor) into the city include the Antrim Road, Shore Road, Holywood Road, Newtownards Road, Castlereagh Road, Cregagh Road, Ormeau Road, Malone Road, Lisburn Road, Falls Road, Springfield Road, Shankill Road, and Crumlin Road.

Belfast city centre is divided by two postcodes, BT1 for the area lying north of the City Hall, and BT2 for the area to its south. The industrial estate and docklands share BT3. The rest of the Greater Belfast postcodes are set out in a clockwise system. Although BT stands for Belfast, it is used across the whole of Northern Ireland.

Since 2001, boosted by increasing numbers of tourists, the city council has developed a number of cultural quarters. The Cathedral Quarter takes its name from St. Anne’s Cathedral (Church of Ireland) and has taken on the mantle of the city's key cultural locality. It hosts a yearly visual and performing arts festival.

In March 2008, Victoria Square, a £400m shopping complex opened in the centre of Belfast, consisting of shops, restaurants, a cinema (opening in June 2008) and the largest of any House of Fraser store, increasing the shopping area of Belfast by up to a third.

Custom House Square is one of the city's main outdoor venues for free concerts and street entertainment. The Gaeltacht Quarter is an area around the Falls Road in West Belfast which promotes and encourages the use of the Irish language. The Queen's Quarter in South Belfast is named after Queen's University. The area has a large student population and hosts the annual Belfast Festival at Queen’s each autumn. It is home to Botanic Gardens and the Ulster Museum, closed for major redevelopment until 2009. The Golden Mile is the name given to the mile between Belfast City Hall and Queen's University. Taking in Great Victoria St, Shaftesbury Square and Bradbury Place, it contains some of the best bars and restaurants in the city. Since the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, the nearby Lisburn Road has developed into the city's most exclusive shopping strip. Finally, The Titanic Quarter covers 0.75 km² of reclaimed land adjacent to Belfast harbour, formerly known as Queen's Island. Named after the Titanic, which was built here in 1912, work has begun which promises to transform some former shipyard land into "one of the largest waterfront developments in Europe". Plans also include apartments, a riverside entertainment district, and a major Titanic-themed museum.

Belfast has over forty public parks. The Forest of Belfast is a partnership between government and local groups, set up in 1992 to manage and conserve the city's parks and open spaces. They have commissioned more than 30 public sculptures since 1993. In 2006, the City Council set aside UK£8 million to continue this work. The Belfast Naturalists' Field Club was founded in 1863 and is administered by National Museums and Galleries of Northern Ireland.

With 700,000 visitors in 2005, one of the most popular parks is Botanic Gardens in the Queen's Quarter. Built in the 1830s and designed by Sir Charles Lanyon, Botanic Gardens Palm House is one of the earliest examples of a curvilinear and cast iron glasshouse. Other attractions in the park include the Tropical Ravine, a humid jungle glen built in 1889, rose gardens and public events ranging from live opera broadcasts to pop concerts. U2 played here in 1997. Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park, to the south of the city centre, attracts thousands of visitors each year to its International Rose Garden. Rose Week in July each year features over 20,000 blooms. It has an area of 128 acres (0.52 km2) of meadows, woodland and gardens and features a Princess Diana Memorial Garden, a Japanese Garden, a walled garden, and the Golden Crown Fountain commissioned in 2002 as part of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.

In 2008, Belfast was named a finalist in the Large City (200,001 and over) category of the RHS Britain in Bloom competition along with London Borough of Croydon and Sheffield.

In the 2001 census, the population within the city limits (the Belfast Urban Area) was 276,459, while 579,554 people lived in the wider Belfast Metropolitan Area. This made it the fifteenth-largest city in the United Kingdom, but the eleventh-largest conurbation. Belfast experienced a huge growth in population around the first half of the twentieth century. This rise slowed and peaked around the start of the Troubles with the 1971 census showing almost 600,000 people in the Belfast Urban Area. Since then, the inner city numbers have dropped dramatically as people have moved to swell the Greater Belfast suburb population. The 2001 census population within the same Urban Area, had fallen to 277,391 people, with 579,554 people living in the wider Belfast Metropolitan Area. The population density in the same year was 2,415 people/km² (compared to 119 for the rest of Northern Ireland). As with many cities, Belfast's inner city is currently characterised by the elderly, students and single young people, while families tend to live on the periphery. Socio-economic areas radiate out from the Central Business District, with a pronounced wedge of affluence extending out the Malone Road to the south. An area of greater deprivation extends to the west of the city. The areas around the Falls and Shankill Roads are the most deprived wards in Northern Ireland.

Despite a period of relative peace, most areas and districts of Belfast still reflect the divided nature of Northern Ireland as a whole. Many areas are still highly segregated along ethnic, political and religious lines, especially in working class neighbourhoods. These zones ‘Catholic’ or ‘Protestant’, ‘Republican’ or ‘Loyalist’ are invariably marked by flags, graffiti and murals. Segregation has been present throughout the history of Belfast, but has been maintained and increased by each outbreak of violence in the city. This escalation in segregation, described as a "ratchet effect", has shown little sign of decreasing during times of peace. When violence flares, it tends to be in interface areas. The highest levels of segregation in the city are in West Belfast with many areas greater than 90% Catholic. Opposite but comparatively high levels are seen in the predominantly Protestant East Belfast. Areas where segregated working-class areas meet are known as interface areas.

Ethnic minority communities have been in Belfast since the 1930s. The largest groups are Chinese and Irish travellers. Since the expansion of the European Union, numbers have been boosted by an influx of Eastern European immigrants. Census figures (2001) showed that Belfast has a total ethnic minority population of 4,584 or 1.3% of the population. Over half of these live in South Belfast, where they comprise 2.63% of the population. The majority of the estimated 5,000 Muslims and 200 Hindu families living and working in Northern Ireland live in the Greater Belfast area.

The IRA Ceasefire in 1994 and the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 have given investors increased confidence to invest in Belfast. This has led to a period of sustained economic growth and large-scale redevelopment of the city centre. Developments include Victoria Square, the Cathedral Quarter, and the Laganside with the Odyssey complex and the landmark Waterfront Hall.

Other major developments include the regeneration of the Titanic Quarter, and the erection of the Obel Tower, a skyscraper set to be the tallest tower on the island until eclipsed by the U2 Tower in Dublin. Today, Belfast is Northern Ireland's educational and commercial hub. In February 2006, Belfast's unemployment rate stood at 4.2%, lower than both the Northern Ireland and the UK average of 5.5%. Over the past 10 years employment has grown by 16.4 per cent, compared with 9.2 per cent for the UK as a whole.

Northern Ireland's peace dividend has led to soaring property prices in the city. In 2007, Belfast saw house prices grow by 50%, the fastest rate of growth in the UK. In March 2007, the average house in Belfast cost £91,819, with the average in South Belfast being £141,000. In 2004, Belfast had the lowest owner occupation rate in Northern Ireland at 54%.

Peace has also boosted the numbers of tourists coming to Belfast. There were 6.4 million visitors in 2005, which was a growth of 8.5% from 2004. The visitors spent £285.2 million, supporting more than 15,600 jobs. Visitor numbers rose by 6% to reach 6.8 million in 2006, with tourists spending £324 million, an increase of 15% on 2005. The city's two airports have help make the city one of the most visited weekend destinations in Europe.

Belfast has been the fastest-growing economy of the thirty largest British cities over the past decade, a new economy report by Howard Spencer has found. "That's because the fundamentals of the UK economy and people actually want to invest in the UK," he commented on that report.

BBC Radio 4's World reported furthermore that despite higher levels of corporation tax in the UK than in the Republic. There are "huge amounts" of foreign investment coming into the country.

The Times wrote about Belfast's growing economy: According to the region's development agency, throughout the 1990’s Northern Ireland had the fastest-growing regional economy in the UK, with GDP increasing 1 per cent per annum faster than the rest of the country. As with any modern economy, the service sector is vital to Northern Ireland's development and is enjoying excellent growth. In particular, the region has a booming tourist industry with record levels of visitors and tourist revenues and has also established itself as a significant location for call centres." Since the ending of the regions conflict tourism has boomed in Northern Ireland, greatly aided by low cost.

Der Spiegel, a German weekly magazine for politics and economy, titled Belfast as The New Celtic Tiger which is "open for business".

When the population of Belfast town began to grow in the seventeenth century, its economy was built on commerce. It provided a market for the surrounding countryside and the natural inlet of Belfast Lough gave the city its own port. The port supplied an avenue for trade with Great Britain and later Europe and North America. In the mid-seventeenth century, Belfast exported beef, butter, hides, tallow and corn and it imported coal, cloth, wine, brandy, paper, timber and tobacco. Around this time, the linen trade in Northern Ireland blossomed and by the middle of the eighteenth century, one fifth of all the linen exported from Ireland was shipped from Belfast. The present city however is a product of the Industrial Revolution. It was not until industry transformed the linen and shipbuilding trades that the economy and the population boomed. By the turn of the nineteenth century, Belfast had transformed into the largest linen producing centre in the world, earning the nickname "Linenopolis".

Belfast harbour was dredged in 1845 to provide deeper berths for larger ships. Donegall Quay was built out into the river as the harbour was developed further and trade flourished. The Harland and Wolff shipbuilding firm was created in 1861, and by the time the Titanic was built in Belfast in 1912 it had become the largest shipyard in the world.

Short Brothers plc is a British aerospace company based in Belfast. It was the first aircraft manufacturing company in the world. The company began its association with Belfast in 1936, with Short & Harland Ltd, a venture jointly owned by Shorts and Harland and Wolff. Now known as Shorts Bombardier it works as an international aircraft manufacturer located near the Port of Belfast. The rise of mass-produced and cotton clothing following World War I were some of the factors which led to the decline of Belfast's international linen trade. Like many British cities dependent on traditional heavy industry, Belfast suffered serious decline since the 1960s, exacerbated greatly in the 1970s and 1980s by The Troubles. More than 100,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost since the 1970s. For several decades, Northern Ireland's fragile economy required significant public support from the British exchequer of up to UK£4 billion per year. Ongoing sectarian violence has made it difficult for Belfast to compete with Dublin's Celtic Tiger economy. This has meant that wage rates in Belfast and Northern Ireland now run almost 40% behind that of the Republic of Ireland.

The architectural style of Belfast's buildings range from Edwardian, like the City Hall, to modern, like Waterfront Hall. Many of the city's Victorian landmarks, including the main Lanyon Building at Queen's University Belfast and the Linenhall Library, were designed by Sir Charles Lanyon.

The City Hall was finished in 1906 and was built to reflect Belfast’s city status, granted by Queen Victoria in 1888. The Edwardian architectural influenced the Victoria Memorial in Calcutta, India, and Durban City Hall in South Africa. The dome is 173 ft (53 m) high and figures above the door state “Hibernia encouraging and promoting the Commerce and Arts of the City”. Among the city's grandest buildings are two former banks: Ulster Bank in Waring Street (built in 1860) and Northern Bank, in nearby Donegall Street (built in 1769). The Royal Courts of Justice in Chichester Street are home to Northern Ireland's Supreme Court. Many of Belfast's oldest buildings are found in the Cathedral Quarter area, which is currently undergoing redevelopment as the city's main cultural and tourist area. Windsor House, 262 ft (80 m) high, has twenty-three floors and is the tallest building (as distinct from structure) in Ireland. Work has started on the taller Obel Tower and in 2007, plans were approved for the Aurora building. At 37 storeys and 358 ft (109 m) high, this will surpass both previous buildings.

The ornately decorated Crown Liquor Saloon, designed by Joseph Anderson in 1876, in Great Victoria Street is the only bar in the UK owned by the National Trust. It was made internationally famous as the setting for the classic film, Odd Man Out, starring James Mason. The restaurant panels in the Crown Bar were originally made for Britannic, the sister ship of the Titanic, built in Belfast. The Harland and Wolff shipyard is now the location of the world's largest dry dock, where the giant cranes, Samson and Goliath stand out against Belfast's skyline. Including the Waterfront Hall and the Odyssey Arena, Belfast has several other venues for performing arts. The architecture of the Grand Opera House has a distinctly oriental theme and was completed in 1895. It was bombed several times during the Troubles but has now been restored to its former glory. The Lyric Theatre, the only full-time producing theatre in the country, is where film star Liam Neeson began his career. The Ulster Hall (1859-1862) was originally designed for grand dances but is now used primarily as a concert and sporting venue. Lloyd George, Parnell and Patrick Pearse all attended political rallies there.

Belfast saw the worst of The Troubles in Northern Ireland, with nearly half of the total deaths in the conflict occurring in the city. However, since the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, there has been significant urban regeneration in the city centre including Victoria Square, Queen's Island and Laganside as well as the Odyssey complex and the landmark Waterfront Hall. The city is served by two airports: The George Best Belfast City Airport adjacent to Belfast Lough and Belfast International Airport which is near Lough Neagh. Queen's University of Belfast is the main university in the city. The University of Ulster also maintains a campus in the city, which concentrates on fine art, design and architecture.

Belfast is one of the constituent cities that makes up the Dublin-Belfast corridor region, which has a population of just under 3 million.

Most of Belfast's water is supplied from the Silent Valley Reservoir in County Down, created to collect water from the Mourne Mountains. The rest of the city's water is sourced from Lough Neagh, via Dunore Water Treatment Works in County Antrim. The citizens of Belfast pay for their water in their rates bill. Plans to bring in additional water tariffs have been deferred by devolution in May 2007. Belfast has approximately 1,300 km of sewers, which are currently being replaced in a project costing over UK£100 million and due for completion in 2009.

Northern Ireland Electricity is responsible for transmitting electricity in Northern Ireland. Belfast's electricity comes from Kilroot Power Station, a 520 megawatt dual coal and oil fired plant, situated near Carrickfergus. Phoenix Natural Gas Ltd. has been granted the licence for the transportation of natural gas across the Irish Sea from Stranraer to supply Greater Belfast from a base station near Carrickfergus. Rates in Belfast (and the rest of Northern Ireland) were reformed in April 2007. The discrete capital value system means rates bills are determined by the capital value of each domestic property as assessed by the Valuation and Lands Agency. The recent dramatic rise in house prices has made these reforms unpopular.

The Belfast Health & Social Care Trust is one of five trusts that were created on 1 April 2007 by the Department of Health. Belfast contains most of Northern Ireland's regional specialist centres. The Royal Victoria Hospital is an internationally-renowned centre of excellence in trauma care and provides specialist trauma care for all of Northern Ireland. It also provides the city's specialist neurosurgical, ophthalmology, ENT, and dentistry services. The Belfast City Hospital is the regional specialist centre for haematology and is home to the most modern equipped regional cancer centre in the UK. The Mary G McGeown Regional Nephrology Unit at the City Hospital is the kidney transplant centre and provides regional renal services for Northern Ireland. Musgrave Park Hospital in south Belfast specialises in orthopaedics, rheumatology, sports medicine and rehabilitation. It is home to Northern Ireland's first Acquired Brain Injury Unit, costing GB£9 million and opened by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall in May, 2006. Other hospitals in Belfast include the Mater Hospital in north Belfast and the Children's Hospital.

Belfast is a relatively car-dependent city, by European standards, with an extensive road network including the ten lane M2 motorway. A recent survey of how people travel in Northern Ireland showed that people in Belfast made 77% of all journeys by car, 11% by public transport and 6% on foot. It also showed that Belfast has 0.70 cars per household compared to figures of 1.18 in the East and 1.14 in the West of Northern Ireland. A significant road improvement-scheme in Belfast began early in 2006, with the upgrading of two junctions along the Westlink dual-carriageway to grade-separated standard. The Westlink, a dual-carriageway skirting the western edge of the city Centre, connects all three Belfast motorways and often suffers from chronic congestion. The work will cost UK£103.9 million and is scheduled for completion in 2009. Commentators have argued that this may simply create a bottleneck at York Street, the next at-grade intersection, until that too is upgraded (planned for 2011).

Black taxis are common in the city, operating on a share basis in some areas. These, however, are outnumbered by private hire taxis. Bus and rail public transport in Northern Ireland is operated by subsidiaries of Translink. Bus services in the city proper and the nearer suburbs are operated by Translink Metro, with services focusing on linking residential districts with the city centre on twelve quality bus corridors running along main radial roads, resulting in poor connections between different suburban areas. More distant suburbs are served by Ulsterbus. Northern Ireland Railways provides suburban services along three lines running through Belfast’s northern suburbs to Carrickfergus and Larne, eastwards towards Bangor and south-westwards towards Lisburn and Portadown. This service is known as the Belfast Suburban Rail system. Belfast also has a direct rail connection with Dublin called Enterprise which is operated jointly by NIR and Iarnród Éireann, the state railway company of the Republic of Ireland.

In April 2008, the DRD reported on a plan for a light-rail system, similar to Dublin. The consultants said Belfast does not have the population to support a light rail system, suggesting that investment in bus-based rapid transit would be preferable.The study found that bus-based rapid transit produces positive economic results, but light rail does not. The report by Atkins & KPMG, however, said there would be the option of migrating to light rail in the future should the demand increase.

The city has two airports: the Belfast International Airport offers domestic, European and transatlantic flights and is located north-west of the city, near Lough Neagh, while the George Best Belfast City Airport is closer to the city centre, adjacent to Belfast Lough. In 2005, Belfast International Airport was the 11th busiest commercial airport in the UK, accounting for just over 2% of all UK terminal passengers while the George Best Belfast City Airport was the 16th busiest and had 1% of UK terminal passengers.

Belfast has a large port which is used for exporting and importing goods, and for passenger ferry services. Stena Line run regular routes to Stranraer in Scotland using its HSS (High Speed Service) vessel—with a crossing time of around 90 minutes— and/or its conventional vessel—with a crossing time of around 3hrs 45 minutes. Norfolkline—formally Norse Merchant Ferries—runs a passenger/cargo ferry to and from Liverpool, with a crossing time of 8 hours and a seasonal sailing to Douglas, Isle of Man is operated by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

Belfast's population is evenly split between its Protestant and Catholic residents. These two distinct vibrant cultural communities have both contributed significantly to the city's culture. Throughout the Troubles, Belfast artists continued to express themselves through poetry, art and music. In the period since the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, Belfast has begun a social, economic and cultural transformation giving it a growing international cultural reputation. In 2003, Belfast had an unsuccessful bid for the 2008 European Capital of Culture. The bid was run by an independent company, Imagine Belfast, who boasted that it would "make Belfast the meeting place of Europe's legends, where the meaning of history and belief find a home and a sanctuary from caricature, parody and oblivion." According to The Guardian the bid may have been undermined by the city's history and volatile politics.

In 2004-05, art and cultural events in Belfast were attended by 1.8 million people (400,000 more than the previous year). The same year, 80,000 people participated in culture and arts activities, twice as many as in 2003-04. A combination of relative peace, international investment and an active promotion of arts and culture is attracting more tourists to Belfast than ever before. In 2004-05, 5.9 million people visited Belfast, a 10% increase from the previous year, and spent UK£262.5 million.

The Ulster Orchestra, based in Belfast, is Northern Ireland's only full-time symphony orchestra and is well renowned in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1966, it has existed in its present form since 1981, when the BBC Northern Ireland Orchestra was disbanded. The music school of Queen's University is responsible for arranging a notable series of lunchtime and evening concerts, often given by renowned musicians which are usually given in The Harty Room at the university (University Square).

Musicians and bands who have written songs about or dedicated to Belfast: Van Morrison, Snow Patrol, Simple Minds, Elton John, Katie Melua, Boney M, Paul Muldoon, Stiff Little Fingers, Nanci Griffith, Glenn Patterson, Orbital, James Taylor.

Further in Belfast the Oh Yeah Belfast Music Centre is located (Cathedral Quarter), a project founded to give young musicians and artists a place where they can share ideas and kick-start their music careers as chance to been supported and promoted by professional musicians of Northern Ireland's music-scene.

Belfast is the home of The News Letter, the oldest English language newspaper in the world still in publication. Other newspapers include the Irish News and Belfast Telegraph and an Irish language daily newspaper called Lá Nua (from the Irish: Lá Nua meaning "New Day"). The city's highest circulating magazine, GO Belfast, launched in May 2006. This glossy, bi-monthly lifestyle and entertainment magazine, which contains celebrity interviews, fashion, events and news was voted PPA Magazine of the Year 2008 (regional) in May 2008 - the only Northern Ireland magazine to win at these national awards.

The city is the headquarters of BBC Northern Ireland, the ITV station UTV and the commercial radio stations Belfast CityBeat & U105 Two community radio stations, Feile FM and Irish language station Raidió Fáilte broadcast to the city from west Belfast, as well as Queen's Radio - a student-run radio station which broadcasts from Queen's University Students' Union. One of Northern Ireland's two community TV stations NvTv is based in the Cathedral Quarter of the city. There are two independent cinemas in Belfast, the Queen's Film Theatre and the Strand Cinema, which host screenings during the Belfast Film Festival and the Belfast Festival at Queen's. Also broadcasting only over the internet is the Cultural Radio Station for Northern Ireland, supporting community relations, Homely Planet.

Watching and playing sports is an important part of Belfast culture. Almost six out of ten (59%) of the adult population in Northern Ireland regularly participate in one or more sports. Belfast has several notable sports teams playing a diverse variety of sports including association football, rugby, Gaelic games, and ice hockey. The Belfast Marathon is run annually on May Day, and attracted 14,300 participants in 2007. The Northern Ireland national football team, ranked 27th in September 2007 in the FIFA World Rankings, and 1st in the FIFA rankings per capita in April 2007 plays its home matches in Windsor Park. The 2007-08 Irish League champions Linfield are also based at Windsor Park, in the south of the city. Other teams include Glentoran based in east Belfast, Cliftonville and Crusaders in north Belfast and Donegal Celtic in west Belfast. Belfast was the home town of the renowned player George Best who died in November 2005. On the day he was buried in the city, 100,000 people lined the route from his home on the Cregagh Road to Roselawn cemetery. Since his death the City Airport was named after him and a trust has been set up to fund a memorial to him in the city centre.

Gaelic football is the most popular spectator sport in Ireland, and Belfast is home to over twenty football and hurling clubs. Casement Park in West Belfast, home to the Antrim county teams, has a capacity of 32,000 which makes it the second largest Gaelic Athletic Association ground in Ulster. The 2006 Celtic League champions and 1999 European Rugby Union champions Ulster play at Ravenhill in South Belfast. Belfast has four teams in rugby's All-Ireland League: Belfast Harlequins (who play at Deramore Park in south Belfast) and Malone (who play at Gibson Park in south-east Belfast) are in the Second Division; and Instonians (Shaw's Bridge, south Belfast) and Queen's University RFC (south Belfast) are in the Third Division.

Belfast boasts Ireland's premier cricket venue at Stormont. The Ireland cricket team plays many of its home games at this venue, which in 2006 hosted the first ever One Day International between Ireland and England. In 2007, Ireland, India and South Africa played a triangular series of one-day internationals at Stormont, and in 2008 the qualifying tournament for the ICC World Twenty20 was held there. At club level, Belfast has seven senior teams: Instonians (Shaw's Bridge, south Belfast) and Civil Service North (Stormont, east Belfast) are in Section 1 of the Northern Cricket Union League; CIYMS (Circular Road, east Belfast), Cooke Collegians (Shaw's Bridge) and Woodvale (Ballygomartin Road, west Belfast) are in Section 2; and Cregagh (Gibson Park, south-east Belfast) and Police Service of Northern Ireland (Newforge Lane, south Belfast) are in Section 4.

Ireland's first professional ice hockey team, the Belfast Giants play their home matches at the Odyssey Arena, watched by up to seven thousand fans. The Belfast Bulls and Belfast Trojans American football teams represent Belfast in the IAFL, competing for the Shamrock Bowl. Other significant sportspeople from Belfast include double world snooker champion Alex "Hurricane" Higgins and world champion boxers Wayne McCullough and Rinty Monaghan.

Belfast has two universities. Queen's University Belfast was founded in 1845 and is a member of the Russell Group, an association of 20 leading research-intensive universities in the UK. It is one of the largest universities in the UK with 25,231 undergraduate and postgraduate students spread over 250 buildings, 120 of which are listed as being of architectural merit. The University of Ulster, created in its current form in 1984, is a multi-centre university with a campus in the Cathedral Quarter of Belfast. The Belfast campus has a specific focus on Art and Design and Architecture, and is currently undergoing major redevelopment. The Jordanstown campus, just seven miles (11 km) from Belfast city centre concentrates on engineering, health and social science. The Conflict Archive on the INternet (CAIN) Web Service receives funding from both universities and is a rich source of information and source material on the Troubles as well as society and politics in Northern Ireland.

Belfast Metropolitan College is a large further education college with several campuses around the city. Formerly known as Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education, it specialises in vocational education. The college has over 53,000 students enrolled on full-time and part-time courses, making it one of the largest further education colleges in the UK.

The Belfast Education and Library Board was established in 1973 as the local authority responsible for education, youth and library services within the city. There are 184 primary, secondary and grammar schools in the city.

Ulster Museum is also located in Belfast.

To further enhance the tourist industry in Northern Ireland, the Belfast City Council is currently investing into the complete redevelopment of the Titanic Quarter, which is planned to consist of apartments, hotels, a riverside entertainment district, and a major Titanic-themed attraction. They also hope to invest in a new modern transport system (high-speed rail and others) for Belfast, with a cost of £250 million.

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Queen's University Belfast

Queen's University Belfast

Queen's University Belfast is a university in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The university's official title, per its charter, is The Queen's University of Belfast. It is often referred to simply as "Queen's", or by the abbreviation "QUB". The university was chartered in 1845, and opened in 1849 as "Queen's College, Belfast", but has roots going back to 1810 and the Belfast Academical Institution.

Queen's is a member of the Russell Group of the UK's 20 leading research intensive universities, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the European University Association, Universities Ireland and Universities UK. The university offers academic degrees at various levels and across a broad subject range, with over 300 degree programmes available. The university's current President and Vice-Chancellor is Professor Peter Gregson, and its Chancellor is the former United States Senator, George Mitchell.

The University also forms the focal point of the Queen's Quarter area of the city, one of Belfast's four cultural districts.

Queen's University Belfast has its roots in the Belfast Academical Institution, which was founded in 1810 and remains as the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. The present university was first chartered as "Queen's College, Belfast" in 1845, when it was associated with the simultaneously founded Queen's College, Cork and Queen's College, Galway as part of the Queen's University of Ireland - founded to encourage higher education for Catholics and Presbyterians, as a counterpart to Trinity College, Dublin, then an Anglican institution. Queen's College, Belfast opened in 1849. Its main building, the Lanyon Building, was designed by the English architect, Sir Charles Lanyon. At its opening, it had 23 professors and 343 students.

The Irish Universities Act, 1908 dissolved the Royal University of Ireland, which had replaced the Queen's University of Ireland in 1879, and created two separate universities: the current National University of Ireland and the Queen's University of Belfast.

Queen's has been led by a distinguished line of Vice-Chancellors (presidents), including Sir David Keir, Lord Ashby of Brandon, Dr Michael Grant, Sir Arthur Vick, Sir Peter Froggatt, Sir Gordon Beveridge, and Sir George Bain.

The university's Chancellors have included Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 9th Earl of Shaftesbury, Field Marshall Alan Brooke, 1st Viscount Alanbrooke, Sir Tyrone Guthrie, Lord Ashby and the incumbent, George Mitchell.

The university was one of only eight United Kingdom universities to hold a parliamentary seat in the Parliament of the United Kingdom at Westminster until such representation was abolished in 1950. The university was also represented in the Parliament of Northern Ireland from 1920–1968, where its graduates elected four seats.

In Irish republican theory at this time, elections to the UK and Northern Ireland parliaments were considered to be elections to an equivalent Dáil Éireann constituency.

In addition to the main campus not far from the centre of Belfast, the university has two associated university colleges, these being St Mary's and Stranmillis both also located in Belfast. Although offering a range of degree courses, these colleges primarily provide training for those wishing to enter the teaching profession. The university has formal agreements with other colleges in Northern Ireland and operates several outreach schemes to rural areas.

While the university refers to its main site as a campus, the university's buildings are in fact spread over a number of public streets in South Belfast, centring around University Road, University Square and Stranmillis Road, with other departments located further afield.

On June 20, 2006 the university announced a £259 million investment programme focusing on facilities, recruitment and research.

Academics at Queen's are organised into twenty schools across three faculties. Each school operates as a primary management unit of the university and the schools are the focus for education and research for their respective subject areas.

Several institutes are also associated with Queen's. Located close to the main campus is the Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queen's which offers training to law graduates to enable them to practise as solicitors or barristers in Northern Ireland, England & Wales and the Republic of Ireland.

The Institute of Theology consists of several colleges with a Christian emphasis, including St Mary's (Catholic), Union Theological College (Presbyterian) as well as Baptist and Methodist colleges in Belfast. In all five colleges teach any programmes with a theological emphasis on behalf of the university; the university may confer theology degrees but cannot teach the subject itself.

Queen's University Belfast was admitted to the Russell Group of UK research-intensive universities in November 2006.

Entrants to Queen's have, on average, 359 A/AS-level points and there are currently 5.3 applications per place. The Sunday Times has described the Queen's admissions policy as "among the most socially inclusive in Britain and Northern Ireland". 99.5 per cent of first degree entrants are from state schools, although this is mainly due to the lack of private schools in Northern Ireland.

The total student population is 24,560, of whom 19,165 are undergraduates and 5,395 postgraduates. Of the undergraduate population, 18,145 are from the UK, 640 from elsewhere in the European Union and 380 are from outside the EU. The figures for postgraduates are 4,115 from the UK, 650 from elsewhere in the EU, and 630 from the rest of the world, mainly from China, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Queen's was established as a non-sectarian institution, with the aim of attracting both Protestant and Catholic students. While the university does not publish data on the religion affiliation of its students, Rupert Taylor, who conducted his PhD research on the university during The Troubles, argued in an article published in 1988 that "Whilst in the past, especially before the Second World War, Catholics were under-represented this is not currently the case". Taylor cites data showing that Catholic representation amongst undergraduates rose from 21.9 per cent in 1958/59 to 27.4 per cent in 1968/69 and 42.5 per cent in 1978/79. By the late 1990s, 54 per cent of Queen's students were Catholics, compared to a 48 per cent share of the Northern Ireland population aged 18-25. The growing share of Catholics in the student population is in part due to the tendency of middle-class Protestants to go to university in Britain rather than Northern Ireland. As of 2008 the QUB medical school accepts some 250 home medical students per year and an additional 12 from overseas. .

The Students' Union at Queen's (QUBSU) is located opposite the Lanyon Building on University Road, and is provided for under the University's Statutes. All students at the University are automatic members of the Union, making it one of the largest Unions on a single campus in Ireland and the UK. It is administered by the Students' Representative Council (SRC) (elected every October, on a Faculty basis) and an Executive (elected in March), who manage the operations of the Union in conjunction with several full time staff.

A range of services are provided by the Students' Union following its reopening in March 2007 after a £9 million redevelopment, including an Advice Centre with full-time staff to help with issues such as money problems, accommodation and welfare. Commercial services are also provided for by the Union and include a shop, canteen and coffee franchise. There are also four pubs within the building, the biggest of which, the Mandela Hall, hosts concerts and the Shine nightclub.

More than fifty sporting clubs and over 100 non-sporting societies are recognised by the Student's Union Council and therefore eligible to apply for an annual grant from the University. The QUB boathouse, home of Queen's University Belfast Boat Club (QUBBC) and Queen's University of Belfast Ladies Boat Club (QUBLBC), is located on the River Lagan near Stranmillis. The Dragonslayers Gaming Society hosts one of Ireland's largest games conventions, Q-Con, in June of each year, and cultural groups such as An Cumann Gaelach and the Ulster-Scots Society are also present. The Queen's University Mountaineering Club is notable for producing three Everest summiteers including Ireland's first, Dawson Stelfox. Dr Roger McMorrow and Dr Nigel Hart also summited in May 2007, and were subsequently jointly announced Queen's University Graduates of the year for 2006/07 for their role in rescuing a young Nepalese climber left for dead near the summit.

Queen's provides housing for both undergraduates and postgraduates, although because of the compact size of Northern Ireland many students chose to live at home and commute to the university. In 2005/06, 36 per cent of Queen's students lived in private accommodation within Belfast, 29 per cent lived with parents or guardians, 20 per cent in private accommodation outside of Belfast, and 10 per cent lived in university maintained accommodation.

The university provides accommodation on a purpose-built 'student village' called Elms Village, which has its own bar and shop, located on the Malone Road, south of the main campus, as well as in a number of houses in the South Belfast area, including at College Gardens and on Mount Charles.

The university hosts the annual Belfast Festival at Queen's and the Belfast Film Festival, and in 2007 is holding the Irish Student Drama Association Festival. It runs Northern Ireland's only arthouse cinema, Queen's Film Theatre, and an art gallery, the Naughton Gallery at Queen's, which is a registered museum. In 2008 the Naughton Gallery was awarded the prestigious Times Higher Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Arts.

Queen's Physical Education Centre (abbreviated to and known widely as the PEC) recently went through an extension program was awarded 'Best Building 2007' by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Northern Ireland. It is one of the largest sports centres in the British Isles. This building houses many squash courts, several climbing walls and is home to QUB's senior men's and women's basketball teams.

The University Playing Fields, also known as Malone Playing Fields, is located just over 2 miles (3.2 km) from the main campus, comprising 17 pitches for rugby, association football, Gaelic football, hockey, hurling, camogie and cricket. In addition, there are three netball courts, nine tennis courts and an athletics arena where the Mary Peters Track is situated.

Queen's Gaelic football team have won several Sigerson Cups, most recently in 2007. The university's association football team, Queen's University Belfast A.F.C., play in the Irish Second Division. Queen's snooker team has won the British intervarsity title on a record eight occasions, including the last two championships.

Queen's has a large number of now-famous alumni, including the poets Seamus Heaney and Paul Muldoon; actors Simon Callow, Liam Neeson and Stephen Rea; crime novelist Brian McGilloway; broadcaster Nick Ross; scientists John Stewart Bell, Frank Pantridge and Thomas Henry Flewett; lawyer Lord Hutton; politicians Eoin MacNeill, Sir Reg Empey, Lord Faulkner of Downpatrick, Lord Trimble, Lord Alderdice, Mark Durkan, Nigel Dodds and Conor Murphy; and the current President of the Republic of Ireland Mary McAleese. Other alumni include John Bodkin Adams, Trevor Ringland and David Cullen (2007 winners of the Arthur Ashe for Courage Award), David Case (Air Commodore, the highest ranking Black officer in the British Armed forces) and Tim Collins (former Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment). Former Provisional IRA member and hunger striker Laurence McKeown attended the university and obtained a Ph.D following his release from prison.

Notable academics who have worked at Queen's include Professor Paul Bew, Baron Bew, Professor Sir Bernard Crossland, Professor Tony Hoare, Professor Michael Mann and Professor John H. Whyte. Writer Philip Larkin was a sub-librarian at the university.

Queen's participates in the European Union's ERASMUS programme, allowing undergraduate students to study for a period at universities in Austria, Finland, Iceland, Portugal, Belgium, France, Italy, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, the Czech Republic, Greece, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Hungary, Poland and Switzerland. Queen's is also part of the Utrecht Network which works towards the internationalisation of higher education. The university also has exchange programmes with the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, and two universities in Canada: Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta. Ching Yun University in Jhongli City, Taiwan, lists Queen's as a 'sister institution'. The university is also a member of the Top Industrial Managers for Europe (T.I.M.E.) Association.

Queen's takes part in the British Council's Business Education Initiative study-abroad scheme sending a number of undergraduate students to study business and related subjects at participating higher-education institutions in the United States.

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Belfast International Airport

Continental's Daily, 757, Newark Service

Belfast International Airport (IATA: BFS, ICAO: EGAA) (Irish: Aerfort Idirnáisiúnta Bhéal Feirste) is an airport located 11.5 NM (21.3 km; 13.2 mi) northwest of Belfast in Northern Ireland. It is also known as Aldergrove, after the village of that name lying immediately to the west of the airport. Belfast International shares its runways with the Royal Air Force base RAF Aldergrove, which otherwise has its own facilities.

Nearly 5.3 million passengers (2.2% of passengers at all UK airports) travelled through the airport in 2008, a 1.7 million (47.1%) increase since 2002. Belfast International is the 2nd busiest airport in Ireland in terms of passenger numbers, after Dublin Airport and it is the busiest airport in the province of Ulster. It is the larger of two airports in Belfast (the other being George Best Belfast City Airport).

The airport is owned by TBI plc, the same company which owns London Luton Airport, Cardiff Airport and Orlando Sanford International Airport, as well as airports in Bolivia and Sweden.

Belfast International has a CAA Public Use Aerodrome Licence (Number P798) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction. The airport operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is not subject to noise abatement procedures, significant environmental constraints or airspace limitations.

The site for the airport was established in 1917 when it was selected to be a Royal Flying Corps training establishment during the First World War. The airport remained open at the end of the war for RAF activity.

Civil traffic began in 1922 when flights were conducted flying newspapers from Chester, although it was not until 1933 that a regular, sustained civil air service started. The flight was to Glasgow and was operated by Midland and Scottish Air Ferries. This was subsequently augmented by flights to the Isle of Man, Liverpool and Croydon, then London’s airport.

During the Second World War, Aldergrove remained an RAF base particularly for the Coastal Command. So that the airport could accommodate larger, long-range aircraft, a major works programme was undertaken to replace the four existing runways with two new long paved runways, thereby forming the basis of the layout that still exists at the airport today.

One of the outcomes of the wartime airfield construction programme was the building of Nutts Corner Airport, just 3 mi (4.8 km) from Aldergrove. On 1 December 1946, the new site replaced Belfast Harbour Airport (now George Best Belfast City Airport) as Northern Ireland’s civil airport, as the site at Sydenham was considered unsuitable.

By the 1950s civil air traffic had outstripped the facilities at Nutts Corner and, in addition, aircraft were being regularly diverted to Aldergrove because of adverse weather conditions. In July 1959 the decision was made to move civil flights to Aldergrove to take advantage of the large airfield and this took place in October 1963.

A new terminal and apron were built with the necessary passenger facilities and the complex was opened by Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother on 28 October 1963. In 1966 the first regular jet service to Gatwick started and in 1968 Aer Lingus and BOAC introduced scheduled services to New York City via Shannon and Prestwick respectively.

In 1971 Northern Ireland Airports Limited was formed to operate and develop the airport and its facilities. A major programme of airfield upgrades was undertaken resulting in improvements to runways, taxiways and the parking apron.

A new International Pier was built together with lounge facilities and car parks, while an additional apron was provided to separate the smaller general aviation aircraft from large commercial jets. In the meantime, British Airways launched the first Belfast to Heathrow shuttle service, and the first Boeing 747 operated from the airport on a charter service to Toronto via Shannon. The first scheduled service to a European city was started by NLM Cityhopper (now KLM Cityhopper) flying to Amsterdam.

In 1983 the airport, renamed Belfast International, was regularly accommodating the largest civil aircraft in service, and with the installation of new technology was capable of all weather operations. In 1985 passenger numbers reached 1.5 million and BMI went into competition with British Airways on the Heathrow service. Further developments to the terminal occurred throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s. A new Executive Aviation Terminal was opened in 1987 and the new cargo centre opened in 1991.

The airport was privatised in 1994. TBI became the new owners of the airport on 13 August 1996, by which time annual passenger numbers had reached 2.5 million.

In 1998 EasyJet started operations from the airport with flights to London Luton. Since then the airline has established a large base at Belfast International and a further eight domestic routes and 15 direct European scheduled routes have been added to the network, making the airline the largest user of the airport.

In 2005 Continental Airlines launched the first ever direct scheduled service to New York (Newark), and direct scheduled services were later introduced to Vancouver with Zoom Airlines but have now ceased following the carrier's demise in August 2008.

In December 2007 Aer Lingus opened a base at Belfast International, its third hub (and first outside the Republic of Ireland). By March 2008 three Airbus A320 aircraft were based at the airport serving nine Aer Lingus routes from Belfast, and the airline has restored the link between Belfast International and London Heathrow Airport which was abandoned by British Airways.

Despite these additional flights, passengers at Belfast International did not rise beyond 6 million in 2008 as some had predicted but in fact fell by 50,000 passengers to 5.2 million.

There are 48 scheduled destinations served from the airport, with 16 domestic services and 32 European and transatlantic services. Transatlantic flights include Newark, Orlando, and Toronto. There are charter and inclusive tour flights to Africa, Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico, the USA and many European destinations.

The airport is a hub for easyJet and Jet2.com, and Aer Lingus with other airlines including bmibaby, First Choice Airways and Thomas Cook Airlines also having a large presence. In December 2007, Aer Lingus opened a base at the airport, and now operate to a variety of European destinations.

Due to Northern Ireland's relative isolation to the rest of the United Kingdom, about two in five flights from the airport are destined for England, Scotland or Wales. EasyJet, the airport's largest operator, flies to seven UK cities, each served between three and eight times daily. Jet2.com has two routes to the UK, Leeds-Bradford and Blackpool, and will commence flights to Newquay and Jersey in 2009. Aer Lingus revived direct flights from the airport to London Heathrow in January 2008. Although initial passenger numbers for this flight seemed to be low, Aer Lingus announced that more than 250,000 people travelled on the route in the first year of operation. They also added that they cover 40% of the Belfast-Heathrow Market in the last 12 months.

EasyJet is the largest airline at Belfast International, with services to 15 destinations in Europe (outside the UK) from Belfast. Jet2.com also operate flights to destinations such as Las Palmas and Málaga. Aer Lingus also serves several European destinations from Belfast International.

Continental Airlines operate daily scheduled flights to Newark Airport in the USA during the summer, and six times weekly during the winter. Other transatlantic flights are operated by Flyglobespan, Air Transat and Thomas Cook Airlines.

Nearly 5.3 million passengers used Belfast International in 2007, the highest total in the airport's history, with total passenger numbers remaining relatively static during 2008. The airport is the busiest in Northern Ireland, having experienced steady growth in passenger numbers, aircraft movements and freight throughput over the last decade. Since 1997 passenger numbers have increased by an average of 10.2% annually.

Travellers by car from Belfast reach the airport by travelling north on the M2 motorway, turning off at Junction 5 and then via A57 for 7 mi (11 km) to the airport. From the north and north west the route is easiest found by coming south on the M2 again to Junction 5.

Translink operates a 24 hour bus service to the airport from their Europa Buscentre, in the centre of Belfast. However this service is sometimes criticised for being relatively expensive in comparison with similar services at other UK airports.

The airport can be reached from Derry and the northwest by the Airporter. This coach service operates 7 days a week and an hourly service from Monday-Friday.

The nearest railway station is the Antrim railway station which is 10 km (6.2 mi) from the airport in Antrim, and is serviced by a bus link called the Antrim Airlink, which departs from in front of the terminal building, Monday-Friday only. There are connections to Belfast, Lisburn and Derry. Trains to and from Dublin are via Belfast Central railway station, which has its own Airbus stop. A new station serving the airport could one day be constructed on the mothballed Lisburn-Antrim railway line as set out in the airport master plan. This line remains in serviceable condition and passes close to the airport terminal.

In September 2006, Belfast International Airport published their master plan for the next 25 years. The master plan predicts that passenger numbers will increase to between 6 million passengers per annum (mppa) and 7.5 mppa by 2015 and to 12 mppa by 2030. Cargo throughput at BIA could reach as high as 82,000 t (81,000 LT; 90,000 ST) by 2015, and 148,000 t (146,000 LT; 163,000 ST) by 2030. To accommodate this growth a number upgrades have been suggested, some of these are listed below.

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Source : Wikipedia