In an up-beat address to the UUP Conference last year, community worker Julia Kee told delegates today’s Londonderry is a changed place from the town where she grew up.
“As a social policy graduate from University of Ulster I was always interested in politics, but never saw just how important politics was until I undertook work and completed a diploma from NUI Galway in the field of community development,” she said.
“Coming as I do from Londonderry I am of an age when I have lived through some of the worst of times; I have seen what terrorists can do to a city and indeed to its citizens. Anyone that visits Londonderry today will see a very different city to the one in which I grew up. I attended a school in the city side, where my uniform was an issue for the majority of the population and I was often ostracised for being a Protestant. I remember this behaviour as being normal, a part of everyday life. In hindsight it was so wrong to be treated unfairly, for being different, and a minority.”
Addressing why she decided to join the UUP, she said it was because it was “a fair party, a democratic party, a party that reflected a good society, where difference is embraced and fairness is a core value, where peace and reconciliation and non-violence is at the very essence of ideals”.
Her work in Tullyally, an interface area, she said she had first hand experience of a community affected by conflict, lack of services, educational underachievement, mental health and wellbeing issues, but most of all limited trust in each-other in politics.
“I also see clearly how government policies affect people in these areas. I see how the inaction of government affects health delivery, economic, social and physical regeneration.
Stressing the importance of trust, she said: “We need and people want a functional government, fair policies and procedures, not a green and orange carve up. The UUP is doing and always has done what is right for Northern Ireland.”
She said people expected very little From government here, reflected in the lowest ever turnout at elections.
“The UUP is the party to turn that around. We put the country first, now let’s ask the people of Northern Ireland to help us deliver on making Northern Ireland the best small country in the world.”
“Where people want to invest because it makes business sense; where graduates want to stay because there are opportunities; where children receive the best early years child care provision; where health care is second to none, and most importantly, a country which looks after the most vulnerable in our society,” she said.