On the night of 25th June 1973, one of the eight people who founded the SDLP was murdered. He was murdered with a friend in North Belfast.
They died in horrific circumstances, too gruesome to recount here.
Paddy Wilson visited our home on occasions. He and my father were friends. He helped us with a housing problem. In the Spring of 1973, he visited our house. I remember telling him that I wouldnt vote in the upcoming Council Elections because Fr Dennis Faul ws calling for a boycott to support the internees.
As it happened I joined SDLP the week after those Elections.
I dont suppose that Paddy Wilson, who was voted onto Belfast Council knew that I had actually joined the Party.
I was canvassing in West Belfast for the Assembly Elections.
Paddy was murdered a few days before those Elections.
It is hard to believe that it is forty years ago.
I sincerely hope that SDLP mark the occasion, especially a the Party is promoting a major conference on Thursday.
It would be fitting if he was mentioned.
I have been frankly disappointed that many young people in SDLP do not know anything about that night forty years ago.
You may say “why should they?” but thats not really a good reason.
It is not a mistake that Sinn Fein would make.
A Political Party needs HISTORY.
So does say…a Football Team. For example young footballers or foreign footballers who join Manchester United cannot be expected to know about the Munich Air Crash or Duncan Edwards. But the Club makes sure they know the history of the Club thru induction courses.
Should SDLP have induction courses for new members?
Surely it is basic stuff.
SDLP is not good with its own History. I have looked for literature that dos not exist because nobody thought it was important. But that…frustrating for the historian….is only paper.
People are much more important.
So hopefully, in this Decade of Centenaries, SDLP will issue a Press Release to acknowledge the murder of a founder member.
Hopefully on Thursday, the large gathering of SDLP people will acknowledge Paddy.
He deserves it.