A marathon peace process
Friends of the peace process know that the journey of transformation on which we are set is long, arduous and challenging.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint and, consequently, requires deep reserves of strength, commitment and endurance to ensure our movement is ever forward.
Along the way, just as in any marathon, there will be moments of doubt and despair — not least when we hit the wall. But, self-belief, confidence, faith in the pathfinders and pace-setters combined with the knowledge that there is no shortcut to the finish line will keep us moving forward.
And, of course, there comes a point when we have completed so much of the 26.2 mile marathon trek, that turning back is out of the question.
That is the point at which we find ourselves in our peace process journey today. Since the seeds of peace were planted two decades ago, there have also been those who have tried to block progress. At times, they may have slowed the peace caravan but they have never stopped the inexorable surge for peace and reconciliation. They will not succeed in doing so today.
I use the marathon metaphor because tomorrow (Monday) I will take to the Belfast Marathon route for the rebuilding fund of the NI Hospice — an inspirational beacon of hope and joy in our city. You can support my strides for their sensational work on my JustGiving page. At the time of writing, I am at the £2,000 stage with £1,000 needed to help me hit my target.
After the marathon, it will be back to bridge-building and peacemaking to create a better Belfast.
And it’s with great pride that I’ll get to build a bridge across the Atlantic on Monday next when I fly to Boston for 24 hours to sign a Sister City Agreement with the mayor of the great city of Boston Marty Walsh.
Full council green lighted this groundbreaking new partnership with Boston on Thursday past in the knowledge that this sister city accord presents inestimable opportunities to Belfast and to Boston. I’m grateful to our friends at the Irish American Partnership for hosting a business breakfast to mark the ceremonial signing and I hope as many of our friends in the Boston area — including John Cullinane and Art McCabe who started this transatlantic process in the nineties as a way to build the peace — will join us.
I am buoyed by the strides forward we have taken during my term in office, my appeal to all who read this blog is to commit themselves to ensuring that, together, we complete this marathon peace process.