Recently I composed a poem about Margaret Ritchie of the SDLP. I was invited to pen one on the SDLP as a whole…the poem has been changed slightly to reflect the result of the recent General Election…I hope you enjoy it and see just why I stand firm with the SDLP. I dedicate this poem to the three Members of Parliament who lost their seats in this election and those members of the SDLP who blazed a trail for so many of us to follow. I thank them for the service they have given and the example they have set for us all.
In a time of woe it seemed all was lost
Trouble reigned, innocence paid the cost
The land and its people were each torn apart
Yet from this darkness was born a heart.
A young gallant group both daring and tough
Came together crying “Enough’s enough!”
Ready and willing to take up the fight
To work to end our troubled plight.
From Belfast town came Hendron, Devlin and Fitt
There was Paddy O’Donoghue and Currie with grit,
Young Seamus Mallon provided a calm
From Derry came Hume the great sainted man.
A party was born which called for peace
It is everyone’s task, the fighting must cease!
We must move on together or die one by one
The journey has started and the work has begun.
There were so many others in those early days
Too many to mention so much we could say
They each did their bit to complete the task
To bring Ireland together, to get agreement passed.
The struggle went on with much energy.
We still had poor housing and poverty,
Injustice, unemployment, inequality,
All of these were faced by the SDLP.
But all in the party were ready and able
To keep all engaged with talks at the table.
The road was not easy it had many bends
But we’re working for peace, Yes that is our end!
Then somehow, somehow after much work and stress
An agreement was decided; we could clean up the mess
It was put the people to have their say
And the people said Yes on that Good Friday.
We’re twenty years on and the party remains
Now Colum Eastwood is holding the reins,
We’ll trust in him as we did John Hume
For he fights for us all from the womb to the tomb.
There’s so many councillors on the ground
Doing their bit, they don’t half get around
We’ve activists and folks like Ronan McCay
And Gerry Cosgrove the indomitable General Secretary.
We’ve Justin McNulty in Newry town
Colin and Sinead in my own South Down
Dolores Kelly holds Upper Bann
And West Tyrone has Dan McCrossan.
In March Pat Catney made history
When he was elected to serve Lagan Valley
Belfast North is defended by Nichola Mallon
While Colum is joined by Mark H Durkan.
We’ve John Dallat in East Derry’s core
And Patsy McGlone the mighty gaeilgeoir.
Claire Hanna is the one for Belfast South
Who epitomises the party’s youth.
In Westminster we had our three MPs
Alasdair, Mark and Margaret Ritchie
They were all up to the task you can ask anyone
For the SDLP work is never done.
They worked for the marginalised and the forgotten
They exposed injustice and systems which were rotten
They rallied against foreign airstrikes from above
Yes! They deserve our thanks and our love!
But now they’ve been ousted by the politics of fear
And extremism on both sides is shifting into gear
Where are we heading, who among us can tell?
Are we all on a one way road to a Brexit Hell?
I stand firm with the SDLP
I’ll not abandon them in this time of need.
I have hope in my heart that a new day will dawn
When people will finally listen to where we went wrong.
The peace which we want is never out of reach
There’s just more to do and more lessons to teach,
Every one of us is sister or brother
We’ve no call for hate, we can love one another.
The SDLP will always be there for you,
Whether you’re Muslim, Christian, Atheist or Jew.
We’re the party that works for every single strand,
We’ll always have hope for our New Ireland.