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Magic of that City Hall moment

(by Máirtín Ó Muilleoir,

I always wondered what it must have been like to be in the room when some sceptic came in with the definite proof that the world isn’t after all flat, writes Máirtín Ó Muilleoir.

Or be in the milling crowd when Mandela walked free from prison. Or in Wenceslas Square when Vaclav Havel’s velvet revolution triumphed. Or even on the steps of City Hall in Atlanta when in 1973 Maynard Jackson became the first black Lord Mayor of an American city.

Not any more though. For after Saturday night beneath the Dome with Alex Maskey delivering a heartfelt and poignant inaugural address, I know what it’s like to be in at the birth of a new era in history.

The splendour of the occasion, beneath the sparkling stained-glass windows honouring Queen Victoria and with former Lord Mayors looking down from their frames in resigned acceptance, only emphasised the magic of the moment.

No-one. No-one could have imagined that the man who walked alone into the bearpit of City Hall, head high, fists clenched, in 1983, would emerge 20 years later as the city’s choice for First Citizen.

And today his legendary battling spirit which ensured that his constituents would be heard above the sectarian catch-cries and assassin’s bullets is as steely as ever; but now his pledge is to heal the wounds of a generation. To play his part in making our great city proud make the city sing Belfast.

July 2, 2002

This article appeared first on the web site on July 1, 2002.