We, Too, Sing Belfast
These missives usually go out on a Sunday evening when whatever prayers you plan to say for the day are probably long dispatched.
But it’s time to pray again — and the best type of prayer is that which doesn’t involve words — for the success of the latest round of peace talks.
And to help you on the way, here’s a website developed by Belfast bridge-builder Gary Mason www.makeitwork.today
Like me, Gary believes we have come too far not to find the common ground on which we can stand behind our embattled institutions and restore confidence in our political leaders. Of course, that won’t be easy, but do we really want to return to the constant dismay and deadend streets of yesterday?
As Gary says:
“We accept that the range of outcomes will probably involve accommodations along the way. However, through agreement we firmly believe that these talks provide a critical opportunity to move forward together in the interests of our community, and to secure a better future for all.”
In short, the Good Friday Agreement with its historic compromises, is the only game in town.
As unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson points out this week in his own blog, the collapse of the peace process will be welcomed only by the wreckers.
And I don’t believe that’s the wish of the vast majority of the people in the great city of Belfast — no matter how vociferous the dissenting few with their hate-filled rhetoric and nihilistic demonstrations.
Thankfully, you don’t have to look far to see the real Belfast: on Saturday at the Golden Thread Gallery, gifted lensman Dónal McCann launched a catalogue of photographs to accompany his stunning exhibition on my year in mayoral office, ‘We, Too, Sing Belfast’. The city’s pre-eminent journalist, Deric Henderson, former head of PA Ireland, has contributed an embarrassing (for me) foreword to the publication which is really not about the former First Citizen at all but about Belfast and its bounty, its resilient people and its bright future. All of which reminds me I have more work to do on an Irish language memoir of my year in office, ‘An Taobh Gheal den tSráid’ (‘Bright Side of the Street’) which will launch at the end of November during the Gaeltacht Quarter festival ‘Fleadh Feirste’. You can order a copy of We, Too, Sing Belfast for £10 plus £2:50 post & packaging here.
So, what I really need to do this week is take a few days off, retreat to a coastal idyll in Co Donegal, and get my literary homework done. Sound like a plan to you?