The past does not define my future, says son of murdered IPLO terrorist who's running for Alliance
The son of a leading republican paramilitary murdered in a feud has spoken of why he decided to join the Alliance Party and run as a candidate in the local government elections.
"The past does not define my future," said Emmet McDonough Brown, whose father Jimmy Brown was gunned down in 1992 as part of a feud within the Irish People's Liberation Organisation – a republican terror group eventually ordered to disband by the IRA.
In Botanic his fellow runner is Duncan Morrow, the former head of the Community Relations Council, who now teaches in the University of Ulster.
His father was Rev John Morrow, the Presbyterian minister who helped found the Corrymeela peace and reconciliation centre.
Mr McDonough Brown was just eight when his father was killed by republican rivals at the age of 36. "I wasn't born when my father was imprisoned and was only three years old when he came out of jail.
"Regrettably, I never really knew him, and like many children affected by the Troubles who have lost a parent I deeply lament that loss," he said.
Jimmy Brown had been charged on supergrass evidence in connection with the murder of a police officer, but was released on appeal.
He had been a republican activist his whole life.
He graduated from Fianna Eireann (the junior IRA) to the Officials, the INLA and eventually the IPLO, his funeral was told in an oration.
He was murdered when he travelled to Belfast to try and mediate in a dispute within the organisation.
His faction of the IPLO called his killers "a drug gang controlled by British intelligence".
Emmet said his family protected him from the worst of the Troubles – something he loves them for.
He said: "I went to the Bunscoil Phobal Feirste (an Irish language primary school near Shaw's Road in west Belfast) and then to Methody, but it was difficult not to have a father in your life as you grow up, and I will always carry his death with me."
He added: "My family voted for the Good Friday Agreement, and along with many others, they have travelled on the journey for peace – one where people's sense of Irishness enjoys civic expression.
"More than that, they have been my inspiration and given me my passionate belief that a better Belfast is not only possible, but is currently being fashioned."
Emmett now works full-time for the Alliance Party and has been a member for several years.
"I find the challenge of building a shared future to be the most obvious, but yet the most radical, idea in our politics.
"This is why I joined the Alliance Party, a diverse range of people who are united in that pursuit.
"It is also why I am standing for the local council elections this May," he said.
Dr Morrow, Emmet 's running mate, said he was proud to run alongside him for a place on Belfast City Council.
"Alliance is for everyone – it is not a slogan, but something we adhere to.
"Diversity is at the heart of the party and Alliance champions and cherishes the individuality of its members," he said.
Alliance leader David Ford said the range of candidates his party was fielding in South Belfast showed what a "diverse party Alliance is".
He pointed out that the South Belfast MLA is Anna Lo, the Euro candidate and the first ethnic Chinese person to be elected to any legislature in Britain of Ireland.
In the neighbouring Balmoral ward the candidates are Paula Bradshaw, a former Ulster Unionist candidate who works in the loyalist Village area as a community worker, and Jamie Doyle, who takes part in '7 Up', a BBC documentary series charting the careers of a group of people once every seven years of their lives.
David Ford's foursome of South Belfast candidates bidding for seat on Belfast City Council
Paula Bradshaw (Balmoral)
Ms Bradshaw's day job is director of the Greater Village Regeneration Trust in the loyalist working-class heartland of Donegall Road.
She contested the South Belfast constituency for the UUP in 2010.
She joined Alliance later that year, after not being selected to run as an MLA.
Yesterday she said: "Unionists and nationalists have failed to deliver an open society, have failed to further Press freedom and have made no in-roads when it comes to gender equality."
Jamie Doyle (Balmoral)
Mr Doyle is the only Northern Ireland person on BBC’s ‘7 UP’ series, which charts the lives of a group of people of the same age with documentaries every seven years. The latest edition, 21 UP, will be screened shortly.
He said: “Knowing that my life is going to be documented every seven years has really made me take stock. This latest instalment will showcase my desire for a better, shared Northern Ireland.” He was educated at a Catholic nursery, an integrated primary school and a grammar school.
Emmet McDonough Brown (Botanic)
Mr McDonough Brown works full-time for the Alliance Party and has been a member for over two years. He is a law graduate.
He was just eight when his father, the republican activist Jimmy Brown, was murdered as he sat unarmed in his car during a republican feud in 1992.
He never really knew his father, who had been living in Dublin before the murder.
He said: “I will always carry his death with me... but the past does not define my futur
Duncan Morrow (Botanic)
Dr Morrow is a leading community relations expert who is director of community engagement at the University of Ulster. He is a former head of the Community Relations Council and has facilitated dialogue between loyalists and republicans. He comes from a Presbyterian background and his father was a clergymen.
He said: “Diversity, tolerance and a commitment to a shared future, not a scared future, are the only things worth working for in Northern Ireland.”