In response to this piece a fortnight ago, I asked people if they could add a few points – areas where Northern Ireland is truly exceptional. I felt this an appropriate way to mark fifteen years since the Agreement (to the week).
Road-racing of course… watch for a film coming from Double Band about the Dunlops demonstrating so many things – not just sporting prowess, but also family attachments and of course excellent documentary making.
And there’s more on football to cheer us up… the only time Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup having entered was against Northern Ireland; the only time Germany/West Germany lost home and away in a qualifying competition for anything was against Northern Ireland; the penalty kick was first taken in County Armagh.
See above, for a start!
And yes, I didn’t mention Snow Patrol, or Ash, or Two-Door Cinema Club…
… nor did I mention Pipe Bands. The world champion pipe band for most of the past 20 years has not been from Scotland or indeed anywhere else – it has been the Field Marshal Montgomery from Lisburn.
Standard of Living
Nor did I mention safety. Safety? Safety. Belfast is the safest city in the UK; often ranked among the top five safest in the EU (one recent study has it second behind Helsinki) or even the world (one in 2008 puts it behind only Tokyo).
Northern Ireland has the lowest overall crime rates in the UK; even homicide is in line with the English and Irish average and much lower than Scotland. There is an issue with those figures, namely that we may still be more reticent about reporting crime; but even when the question is about “feeling safe”, Northern Ireland scores markedly well.
Northern Ireland also locks up far fewer of its population, while maintaining these lower crime rates. Per capita, only about half as many Northern Ireland residents are in prison as in Great Britain.