Top of the ticket, ma
They tell me the Buddha says, “I never see what has been done; I only see what remains to be done”.
And while I claim neither the serenity or wisdom of my Buddhist pals, I do remember the advice of my former Buddhist chaplain Paul Haller, advice which came from the most authoritative source of all — his mother: “do your best”.
So as I face into a new mandate at Stormont, that’s my pledge to those who put their trust in me by returning me at, as the Yanks say, the top of the ticket in the Assembly election in South Belfast on Thursday. I will do my very best to build a prosperous and shared Belfast. And in that work, it’s my intention to work positively with all the other parties returned in the constituency (take a bow, Claire Bailey, Claire Hanna, Emma Little-Pengelly, Paula Bradshaw, Christopher Stalford) in pursuit of the common good.
With your support and encouragement, we didn’t do so bad: I secured the biggest-ever share of the vote in South Belfast for Sinn Féin — a constituency which, in the not so distant past, didn’t return any Sinn Féin representatives — and increased the party vote from the last election by two per cent.
That was down to the hard work of my formidable election A Team and the determination of ordinary punters to stand up for a brighter, diverse and job-rich Belfast.
It was a vote for the gay couples still denied marriage equality; a vote for the Irish speakers still denied basic recognition of their native language; a vote for the Filipinos, the Roma, the Bangladeshis, the Muslims, the Poles and all the other newcomers who want to make a contribution to their new home. And it was a vote for a united and reconciled Ireland.
But, above all, to take a leaf from the Buddha’s book, it was a vote for the future.