Londonderry, the town that we love so well, is doing fine

Londonderry's Guildhall
Londonderry's Guildhall

Post election days are the best. It’s back (almost) to normal television and conversation is not dominated by who will win what seat.

We can all get on now with planning the summer holidays and if the candidate you voted for was successful, that is the icing on the cake.

Sandra Chapman

Sandra Chapman

The next election won’t be for five years unless something major happens to change that so we can sit back and hope the new Tory government will do what it says on its tin.

This time around I found myself an undecided voter wanting nothing to do with anyone who was anti everything about the gay community, overly religious to the extent that only their own view mattered and not that of the electorate and who had been so long in the job they had lost sight of what the rest of us think.

I had no desire either to vote for anyone even remotely involved in terrorism past or present or anyone whose actions and attitudes prolong our divisions.

Himself, who I consult now and then about serious issues, thought I shouldn’t bother to vote at all because, in his view, as an ex newspaper man, very few of the candidates appeared to match my strict standards.

When the results were finally collated it proved to me that the people of this province want to move on and build a modern society which is tolerant and progressive. We’ve had enough of violence, intolerance, religious dogma and politicians out only for their own enhancement. The results were something of a ‘people’s revolution’ if you like, a clear message that enough’s enough.

In fact the results were such that I decided, after all, to visit Londonderry to show my Canadian visitor what this great city looks like.

Recent dissident activity had left me hesitant to expose him to any danger. During our visit the only danger to us was being blown off the city walls by the strong winds. We pitied a group of Americans who clearly hadn’t come dressed for the torrents of rain which fell every half hour interspersed with periods of beautiful sunshine.

I wanted to bus it into the city, he was determined we should walk the Peace Bridge at the end of which we found a fabulous coffee shop with wonderful staff who brought us leaflets of where to go and what to see. They were all young and enthusiastic, just what Londonderry needs.

Every foreign visitor to Londonderry wants to do the mural trail. These murals in the Bogside can be glimpsed through the iron fencing on the walls and portray the early days of the Troubles as witnessed by those living around Free Derry Corner.

They are a chilling reminder of the recent past, a one-sided view of course, intended to curry sympathy perhaps. There is no reference to the other victims throughout the province who withstood the onslaught of a republican terrorist campaign and who, to this day try to keep a dignified silence despite provocation.

This crude artwork sent a chill through me to such an extent I didn’t want to be photographed beside it. I would like to think those who live behind those painted walls have moved on from the past because away from that street Londonderry is bubbling with life, its people willing to help any tourist who asks questions.

Its architectural treasures such as the magnificent St. Columb’s Cathedral and the Guildhall are a delight giving the place class and status.

My visitor, who loves everything about the outdoors, had expressed a wish to climb mountains here only. He wasn’t all that keen on following a tourist trail until he saw the Dark Hedges, the Giant’s Causeway, Ballintoy, Dunluce Castle and then Londonderry and realised that Ulster is the priceless jewel we all think it is.