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There was much surprise after the Office for National Statistics ranked Northern Ireland as the happiest part of the UK. The Guardian reported that, when informed, one government press officer blurted out: “Really?” There is particular surprise in Northern Ireland, where the council district with the highest life satisfaction is Mid and East Antrim, comprising dour Ballymena, dull Carrickfergus and infamously dreary Larne.

Asked to explain the finding the borough’s mayor Audrey Wales, cited “the diversity of our citizens.” Yet Mid and East antrim is the second-least diverse district in the province, behind overwhelmingly Protestant North Down. Is it having so few Catholics about that makes Antrim people happy?

– From The Sunday Times Attticus : John Burns column. 02/10/2016 [p.27]

The label ‘dour Ballymena’ stings a little… but the enigma of being seen as a symbol of happiness and, in the eyes of our Mayor, being a diverse people… ┬áis as fascinating as it is weird!