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The Belfast Slave Ship Company

In 1786, a meeting was organised by a merchant called Waddell Cunningham just returned to Belfast from New York where he’d made his fortune in trade. The meeting was held in the Assembly rooms (the old Northern Bank building) on Donegall Street and it’s purpose was to attract other investors for a new trading company. Cunningham was confident that this proposed company would make fortunes for himself, the other investors and the city of Belfast as similar companies had made the cities of Bristol, Liverpool and Glasgow rich.

One man, Thomas McCabe, a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Rosemary Street attended the meeting with the intention of disrupting it.

The meeting was well attended and half way through, McCabe stood up and condemned those present for what they were planning. He told them they were a disgrace and described in detail the human degradation involved because the purpose of the meeting was to form the Belfast Slave Ship Company. McCabe finished his address by saying:

“May God Wither the Hand of Any Man Who Signs This Agreement.”

The meeting broke up, the Belfast Slave Ship Company was never formed and in effect, Belfast turned it’s back on millions if not billions of pounds.

Tomorrow, 15 May 2010, events have been organised under the title, Good Vibes from Belfast, to celebrate McCabe’s stand.

The event comprises of two concerts. In the afternoon, legendary guitarist Henry McCullough whose songs include “Failed Christian” is to perform at the First Presbyterian Church, Rosemary Street  in Belfast.  Additional music will be provided by Louisiana Joyride, with book readings from, Terri Hooley, Eamon Nancarrow and Raymond O’Reagon. In the evening, the Undertones, Pocket Billiards and Acoustic Dan will take to the stage at the Mandela Hall in Belfast.

Amnesty International is supporting the events and we'll be at the Mandela Hall with information about Amnesty International's modern day campaigns against exploitation and campaign postcards for gig-goers to sign. If you can't make it along, you can take action online.

Good Vibes from Belfast

Mandela Hall, Saturday 15 May 2010 @ 7.30pm

The Undertones, Pocket Billiards, Acoustic Dan + Very Special Guests

Tickets – £16 available from or by calling at Easons, Donegall Place, Belfast or the Belfast Welcome Centre, Donegall Place, Belfast,

Good Scribeations

The First Presbyterian Church, Rosemary Street, Belfast on Saturday 15 May 2010 from 3pm to 5 pm.

Henry McCullough, Terri Hooley, Raymond O’Reagan, Eamon Nancarrow and Louisiana Joyride.

Tickets £6 from The Welcome Centre, Donegall Place, Belfast (

All event information courtesy of Arthur Magee. Listen to Radio Ulster tomorrow just after 10am for more details when Arthur and I will be talking to John Tohill about the events and the campaigns.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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