Audrey Watson has a good piece on Inez McCormack in the Newsletter. The veteran trade unionist has been named by the US-based Newsweek magazine as one of ‘150 women who shake the world,‘ a remarkable tribute to a woman with a fascinating life story summarised neatly in the article. But McCormack has good advice if we are truly interested in moving towards Longley’s civilised destination:
“I know how to argue for change for those who need it and I also know how to enable them to be part of making that change and also, most importantly, I know when change is real and when it isn’t,” she says.
“Power isn’t good because I get it, it’s how I exercise it. That can apply to the assembly as well. How are they going to use their power to ensure that there is change for those who are not at the table and those who are excluded?
“Put those who are excluded or disadvantaged at the centre of the debate and not the end, otherwise change will never happen.
“You have to name what needs changed and sometimes that’s very uncomfortable, because you are talking about things that people don’t want to hear – whether that’s religion, politics or women’s rights.
“I thought it was very brave when Dawn Purvis launched that report a few weeks ago about young Protestant working class men and education.
“Some people think that we shouldn’t be talking about things like that anymore, but if you don’t name the issue, you don’t tackle it.
“In the same way, it has to be possible to say that in north Belfast, the majority of people on waiting lists are Catholic and you need to know that in order to address it.
“Tackle issues on the basis of need rather than who’s doing a political deal.” (added emphasis)
The final statement is important because it yearns for a time still beyond us.