At a service of thanksgiving for the life of Addie Morrow, his nephew Duncan Morrow gave a thorough tribute.
Duncan described his uncle as a great oak tree:
“We grew in his shadow and we got courage from his strength. In the time of characterlessness, Addie had character. Enough to stand up to bigotry and murder, in the face of real threat … When an oak tree of this solidity falls, we are all shaken and the world looks a little different.”
He described the inspiration of Ray Davey, with Addie becoming a founding member of the Corrymeela Community. Ray challenged people to put their words into action. “As the Troubles began, and many Catholic families being burnt out of their homes in Belfast, Addie found himself driving his car and trailer into West Belfast to help rescue these families and their belongings.” With Ray’s encouragement, Addie furthered his vision into active politics, with the New Ulster Movement and then the Alliance Party.
“Addie found himself in many dangerous situations, mainly because he couldn’t live with himself if he didn’t get involved.” This brought threats not only to himself but his children. Addie both campaigned for Alliance in West Belfast during the hunger strikes as well as took on what he saw as the injustices in Castlereagh Borough Council.
When one of his daughters asked him why he did all of these thankless missions, Addie replied, “I want to look you in the eye and say that I tried.”
“Born on the Ballyhanwood Road, lived on the Ballyhanwood Road, died on the Ballyhanwood Road. Addie is a standing rebuke to all those who believe that only travel broadens the mind.
“This is a remarkable story.”
David Ford, leader of the Alliance Party, followed with a tribute that focused on Addie’s political career, pointing out that Addie came to Alliance via Corrymeela:
“When people say that Corrymeela is Alliance at prayer, they’re wrong; Alliance is the Corrymeela Community at politics.”
Addie Morrow was elected to Castlereagh Borough Council when it was formed in 1973. Served there until 1989. He was elected four times, “from the high point of topping the poll in 1977, to the low point of that dreadful hunger strike election of 1981.”
In 1982, Addie was elected to the Stormont Assembly, gaining a second Alliance seat in East Belfast alongside Oliver Napier. David described how Addie’s victory was assisted by transfer votes from the Workers’ Party:
“The Short Strand voting for the Presbyterian farmer from Ballyhanwood. Surprising to some, not surprising to those who knew Addie.”
He also described how Addie just got on with the work of doing the best he could do for farmers, serving as vice chair to the chairmanship of Ian Paisley in the Assembly’s agriculture committee.
In 1983 and 1987, Addie was the Alliance parliamentary candidate for Strangford. He contested North Down in 1992. Meanwhile, he was a serving as a representative of East Belfast. “In fact, he lived three constituencies in one decade. But all he did was move down the lane from his farm to his bungalow.”
“His commitment to peace, to partnership, to reconciliation, to transforming Northern Ireland to building a genuine shared future, shown through day and daily in the work he did, in the politics he promoted, in the friendships he made.”
Addie also served Alliance as Vice Chair and Chair or the party; as agriculture spokesperson for many years; as Party President. And he was always willing to campaign for Alliance candidates right across Northern Ireland.
“He was the personification of encouragement. He always had a positive word to make me feel the tasks ahead were possible. An inspiration not just for me but for many of us who took up elected politics.
“He fought for his beliefs all his life. Religion and politics mixed in him. Truly a gentleman, who had a deep faith, put into practical action in so many ways … which made this world a better place, and our lives were enriched for knowing him.”
Individually, I was grateful for the privilege of Addie making himself available for me for a two-hour interview, as part of my Master’s thesis at University College Dublin. I did not get to know the Morrow family personally, but I did learn much from Addie’s political philosophy.
Addie Morrow was an honour to Northern Ireland politics.
[Original posting -- including audio -- at http://mrulster.org/addie-morrow-service-of-thanksgiving/]