A Heartfelt Thank You...


Northern Ireland has awoken this morning to a new European Representation in which tribal identity is no longer paramount.  At the Meadowbank Sports centre in beautiful Magherafelt, yesterday morning as the elections count got underway, counting more than a half a million ballot papers, a noticeable feature was a gentle flurry of ballot carrying officials in the direction of the tables allocated to Naomi Long. Naomi, now elected as the leader of the cross-community Alliance party.

If our campaign had served a little to move the tone of the campaign then we are delighted. This was then the focus of all we did and while we can never know the effect of our contribution, we are delighted in any event. We conducted an ordered and dare I say inspiring campaign and managed to generate welcome support in votes after barely two weeks in a campaign that had not even been considered six weeks ago. A hearty thank you to all who linked with us in any way and to those who voted for me a special word of thank you for trusting me.

The work goes on. The core campaign policy of a citizens dialogue will now be pursued. We will be approaching many in positions of influence including the three strong women MEPs of the Northern Ireland constituency, Naomi Long, Martina Anderson and Diane Dodds. We will be seeking the support of voluntary and state agencies to assist in the construction and careful management of this process. We are still calling for a review of the Belfast Agreement and exploration of further ways in which the state of Ireland can support the regeneration of the economy of NI and the shoring up of enduring peace. As often in the past, the words of the great poet give us inspiration:

The innocent in gaols
Beat on their bars together.
A hunger-striker's father
Stands in the graveyard dumb.
The police widow in veils
Faints at the funeral home.

History says, don't hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
And cures and healing wells.

Seamus Heaney, The Cure at Troy