Tuesday, November 16, 2010
NOT GOING AWAY, YOU KNOW.
‘You’re mad!’ your man said.
‘What do you mean I’m mad?’
‘Going to Louth – abandoning the people of west Belfast. It’ll all end in tears.’
‘Well’ I said, ‘When you talk the talk you also have to walk the walk. The country’s in a mess. People are crying out for leadership and a way to regain our sense of ourselves’.
‘And you think you can do something about that? Who’s going to represent west Belfast?’
‘The people will sort that out. And I’m not leaving west Belfast. I’m standing down from my public responsibilities here. But this is where I live. It’s where Colette and our family live. It’s my community. It’s where my church is, my GAA club, my county.’
‘So, you think you’re going to get elected in Louth?’
‘Well, that’s the intention. There’s no guarantees. Wee Arthur is a hard act to follow. And it is a challenge. Luk, Sinn Féin is the only all-island party. There are two different sets of policy position, currencies, political establishments because of partition. But the problems are the same. I’m two or three days in the south every week as you know. And sometimes two or three days in the Assembly. So, its hard to do both to the extent that is required.
‘and what about the peace process?’ he asked.’
‘Martin and I work very closely together and we don’t take the peace process for granted. I’ll continue to work on that. But you have seen people coming up to me in distress at what the government in Dublin is doing.
And Fine Gael and Labour have bought into that agenda. We are the only ones proposing a better way forward.
I’m one of the people calling on citizens to make a stand. So I’ve decided to make a stand myself.
And by the way all the work I do on suicide prevention, on justice issues like the Ballymurphy and Springhill Massacres, I’ll be able to bring them to a different platform.’
‘If you get elected!’
Your man was really in a tizzy.
‘I know this idea has been kicked about for 9 or 10 years now’ he exclaimed, ‘but why now? What about the regeneration projects in west Belfast?’
‘We’re going to push ahead with those. Look, I know this is a big thing. I had to decide personally whether I was up for it. Whether I wanted to put my family through another roller coaster ride. Whether I could wrench myself away from the work that I do here in the west of the City.
And when I did eventually come round to the conclusion that I personally would be prepared to take this initiative, apart from Colette, the first people I spoke to was the Belfast and west Belfast leaderships. And then our leadership in County Louth.
We had lengthy discussions and we’re all at one on this. A struggle is about taking risks. It’s about acting in the common good. Our struggle at its essence is about Ireland and the people of Ireland. So, there you are.’ I concluded.
‘You don’t have to give me all that bullshit. Who’s going to thank you for this?’
‘I’m not looking thanks.’
‘You’re looking your head chopped off. You’re handing it to the staters on a plate. The establishment is going to come at you – like a tornado.’
I decided to provoke him.
‘Did you ever read Robert Frost?.’ I asked.
‘I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood,
And I –
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.’
He looked at me with a smirk.
‘You’re full of it!’ he exclaimed.
‘And’ he said coyly with a little smile, ‘You’re leaving me.’
‘No I’m not’ I said. ‘You’re coming with me.’
‘Well I’m up for that! The only thing is,’ he hesitated ‘I feel like Ché before he went to Bolivia.’
‘We’ll be alright’ I said.
‘I suppose so’ he said.’ Let’s do it. Up the Republic!
‘Now who is full of it? ’ I asked him.
‘Well’ he replied ‘We’re not going away you know. Just down the road a wee bit. Up Louth’.
‘Turn coat’ I said ‘Aontroim Abú!’