Billy Boyd was a Northern Ireland Labour Party politician who once attended the same Shankill Road church/mission hall as my parents. His wife's father was a close friend of my dad and last week I was delighted to receive a leaflet from her depicting Billy Boyd with Falls Road fellow Labour man Paddy Doherty, shaking hands across the Peace line. That peace wall, then consisted of barbed wire and corrugated iron and was depicted below the captions 'Hope at Belfast's Wall of Shame'.
Billy Boyd thought people were more important than party politics, while Paddy Doherty said fear must be removed from our streets. Their joint message was that fear and mistrust cannot be removed while we remain in two separate camps. If sectarian politics continued in the new assembly, we would pass suffering and violence to our children. It was time to put away the guns and stop teaching our children to hate.
Sadly sectarian politics won the day and the dividing walls are more substantial than ever. Many who tried to foster new beginnings were at every twist and turn hindered by so-called republicans and Paisleyites still caught up in old animosities.
The assembly that Boyd and Doherty looked forward to is now a distant memory and even the institutions associated with the Belfast Agreement now seem in tatters.
Things are better on the streets thanks to those who took risks, but the dream of a shared society seems as remote as ever.
The hypocrisy of Sinn Féin and the DUP is being exposed yet incredibly both parties have gained seats. This was because they had kudos. Sinn Féin's kudos came from the whiff of cordite whereas the DUP has it from smoke and mirrors and a patriotism that provides a refuge for scoundrels.
Both parties give the impression of movement but, like the proverbial leopard, each retains their spots. They will do deals once elections are out of the way but one wonders how they can change habits of a lifetime to work with each other. They are more likely to divide the spoils and hand on a legacy a deep division and apartheid, as feared by Boyd and Doherty.
Paisley and Robinson will however do whatever it takes to achieve power and the DUP have spoken with forked tongues regarding Sinn Féin in government. Hints are made and then seemingly retracted only to be repeated in at a later date.
It is also noticeable that with all the hype surrounding the demise of Pope John Paul and the election of a new Pope, Paisley remains silent. The lure of high office proves irresistible and we can expect strange contortions should the DUP succeed in damaging the UUP which is almost the be all and end all of their politics. If Paisley makes it to First Minister it will be a short time before the internal squabbling comes to the surface. The tensions must be horrendous and when the Fuehrer goes his lieutenants will fight over the pickings. It was the agility with which the DUP spoke from both sides of their mouths that enabled them to garner rich pickings but a price will no doubt be paid.
In the early 1970s Paddy Doherty and Billy Boyd rightly called on the electorate to "Have a bit of commonsense". But we must not underestimate the power that comes from manipulating ancestral voices in order to gull electors. These voices carry enormous power to deceive and cajole. The first casualty of this type of election is commonsense, the very thing we stand most in need of to get us out of the morass.
Faced with a cruel undemocratic voting system that enables politicians to be elected on minority votes, many may be tempted to stay at home or perhaps support the Vote For Yourself Party.
But most of us want a better future and must never give up hope. We should vote for wise and honourable politicians wherever they can be found if we are to build the better future that eluded Billy Boyd and Paddy Doherty and so many others.