A declaration…Paddy Wilson was a friend of my father who occasionally visited our house. Elected to the old Stormont Senate in 1969, he was one of the eight founder members of the SDLP a year later.
The last occasion that he visited our house was a few days before the 1973 Council Elections last May. He tried to get me to vote SDLP but I told him that I was boycotting the election…in line with the call by Fr Dennis Faul who felt that people should show support for the internees.
So on Election Day, I went into the polling station and spoiled my vote. Almost immediately I regretted it. As the results came on TV, SDLP were losing out on some vital last seats.
In early June…maybe forty years ago this week….I joined the SDLP. And was involved in canvassing for SDLP for the upcoming Assembly Elections. I dont think Paddy ever knew that I had joined the Party but at the end of June, Paddy was murdered. His throat was slashed and he had multiple wounds. It was a shocking event. And I wont go into details here. If you want to…look it up. If you comment, please be aware that you are commenting on a friend of my family.
A Victim. A SDLP Victim. And of course other political parties have lost people to violence…a number in Sinn Feins case and (for example) Rev Robert Bradford and Edgar Graham (unionists). The point I would make is that when discussing victims this week in Stormont, it might well have been a good idea to mention that SDLP know a thing or two about victims an they know what it was like to be sitting across the negotiating table from one of the men who cut the throat of a party colleague. As it is anti-nationalist and anti-SDLP websites like Slugger O’Toole were allowed to get away with a particular narrative.
If the SDLP has a fault…and GOD knows it has several….is that it pulls its punches or maybe doesnt even know the strength of its punches. It holds back.
The SDLP is extremely careless about its own History. There is a portrait of Paddy Wilson in the upstairs conference room in SDLP Headquarters. But I wonder if the young people in SDLP Youth even know who it is. Actually they had a meeting tonight and might even have been in that room.
They are intelligent young people. I am most certainly NOT blaming them for not knowing. But what I am doing is blaming the SDLP for not telling them. Wouldnt an induction course for new members including youth members be a good idea.
Bizarrely SDLP will be talking to each other about Decade of Centenaries and ignoring the important anniversary upcoming. Bizarrely SDLP talks about victims being ignored and ignores its own most prominent victim.