Dear Arlene and Michelle,
We know each other well enough for you to understand the non-sectarian, non-morally superior and non-party political spirit in which I write.
I write as a sincerely anxious citizen as well as from a genuine pastoral concern for ALL the people of this place which you and I are privileged to call our home.
I simply want to ask – did either or both of you and your senior colleagues watch last week’s profoundly moving UTV programme marking the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing? If not, I urge you to turn on your iPlayer at your earliest opportunity.
I believe I know each of you well enough to know that, like me, you cannot fail to be deeply moved and challenged by the spirit and the courage of all those whose very personal stories were so sensitively shared with us in this programme.
Personal stories of “moving on” contrast so sharply with the murderous intent of those who planted the bomb and of the political intransigence which prevents us from leaving our dark past where it belongs and moving forward together.
I suggest that passive admiration of the spirit of others is not enough, however sincere. You will know that I am not alone in asking – if the stories and voices of the victims of Omagh are not enough, what will it take to lift us out of the sodden trenches of our political impasse?
Surely we owe it to these yet quietly grieving people of incredible courage – and to those for whom they grieve – to come together and do whatever it will take to restore OUR Assembly and our confidence in normal effective governance?
The horror of all horrors would be to contemplate the alternative, which some would suggest, would be another event of catastrophic proportions to bring us to our political senses. God forbid!
Sadly, most of us who presently are not directly affected are learning to live with political inactivity, not realising the very serious short and long-term consequences for all of us in the absence of a locally elected legislature.
So I plead with you once more, listen not to predictable and tired old voices like mine, but to those from Omagh and to so many others from across our community who, out of their unspeakable suffering, have shown us in their own incontrovertible way how to face the challenges of the present and the future with dispassionate courage.
I will continue to watch this space with ongoing and deep concern, yet refusing to give up on my hopes of what you and all of our political leaders can yet deliver.
I trust you have the will to undertake the necessary courageous journey as have the people of Omagh to whom I have already referred, along with so many others who share both my frustration as well as my great expectations.