Statistics for the North Down Borough Council, Northern Ireland

Population: 70,750
Area (Square Miles): 246
Official Language: English
Attractions: Seaport, Resort, Yachting Center
Largest Occupation: Industry, Public Sector

smIrelandIn 1995 a delegation from North Down County, Bangor, Northern Ireland attended their first Sister Cities International Conference.  Returning in 1996, to promote a Sister City relationship with North Down Co., Bangor, they explored Virginia Beach because of the similar port area, military affiliation and ocean front tourist attraction.  In 1997, they met with  Mayor Meyera E. Oberndorf and became more interested in twinning with Virginia Beach.

In 1990, Mayor Oberndorf was invited to speak at the House of Commons, London, England.  After that event, she and her husband visited North Down again to renew their friendship and to be sure they understood the intent of the North Down officials’ desire for a Sister City relationship.  The North Down Council faithfully sent representatives to the annual conference of the Sister Cities International to meet with Virginia Beach officials and to foster the relationship.

At the 1999 SCI Conference Mayor Oberndorf and Mayor Smith signed a “Friendship” document.  Following that conference, the North Down Chief Executive and Town Clerk came to Virginia Beach with one of their Councilors and were very excited to go back to North Down and formulate the relationship.

The Virginia Beach City Clerk was asked to go to North Down Co., Bangor, Northern Ireland, to explain to their representatives that Virginia Beach Mayor’s Sister City Commission had adopted certain criteria that must be met to establish a “Sister City” relationship and work with their Mayor, City Council and Staff to begin the process.

In 2000 the Mayor, former Mayor, an Alderman, Town Executive and others visited Virginia Beach.  They were introduced to Arrowhead Elementary School and Kempsville Middle School to establish student exchanges.   Pen Pals were created with the Middle Schools and Arrowhead created several program exchanges.  Fifth Graders wrote to students at Towerview and St. Malachy’s  Primary Schools.  Many photos and small gifts were shared.   Students in Bangor, as well as Virginia Beach, experienced exciting days when the packages arrived.

In 2001 the signing ceremony was held in the Virginia Beach City Council Chamber with dignitaries of both cities and the Virginia Beach Irish Community in attendance.   Sister Cities International Charter was issued May 6, 2001.