Days Like This
We can’t promise you days like this in every update from the great city of Belfast but we can say that, on the seventh day, we give thanks for the all that we receive.
A positive week for Belfast began at the Cenotaph on the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day of the eleventh month when I marked Armistice Day by observing the two-minute silence at the Cenotaph in the company of the President of the Royal British Legion, Mervyn Elder and my eight chaplains.
As much as that moment united Belfast in remembrance of the dead of the great war, it was also an expression of our horror at the loss of the flower of our manhood in the killing fields of France and our conviction that wars should be a thing of the past.
Later in the week, I got to present the lion and legend of Belfast Van Morrison with the Freedom of the City. My East Belfast colleague Alderman Gavin Robinson from the DUP joined me on stage at the Waterfront Hall where an audience of 2,500 Van fans enjoyed the concert of a lifetime. Whatever divided us in the past, the music of Van Morrison united us and this rare honour represented not only our love and respect for Van but also our deep gratitude to him for the part he played in moving us from the dark end of the street to the bright side of the road.
But it was a week of tragedy also for the Filipino community of Belfast who were sent reeling by the calamitous Typhoon Haiyan which left a trail of destruction through their beloved homeland. But our Filipino neighbours are a part of the Belfast family and I’m heartened by the response of Belfast to this disaster. As well as opening a book of condolence alongside my Deputy Ald Christopher Stalford, we announced a special Belfast Day for the Philippines on 29 November.
On that day, we are asking all the community groups in Belfast and the health trust — where many hundreds of Filipinos work — to fundraise for the Phillipines Disaster Appeal.
I will do my small bit by doubling my Movember target from £300 to £600 — we have already hit our £300 target for PIPS, thank you — and directing that extra £300 to the Trócaire appeal. You can donate here.
“These are the days of the endless summer
These are the days, the time is now
There is no past, there’s only future
There’s only here, there’s only now”
P.S. I was also serenaded by the Travellers Choir this week, wonderful ambassadors for our proud travelling community, and you see some pictures of that special visit on the website of photographer Donal McCann who is tailing me for a year.