I decided several months ago after lengthy deliberations, discussions and meetings throughout the community that I would throw my hat into the ring and run in the forthcoming local government elections as an Independent Candidate, offering an alternative to the toxic and failed politics of established parties. Standing on a socialist republican ticket I felt that there was a serious need for urgent change and a political appetite was evolving that demanded an alternative.
The campaign has great momentum in West Belfast with a strong visible presence on the ground highlighting the flaws of the political parties and the social and economic deprivation of the Ward. I have been concentrating on the bread and butter issues, and displaying a credible drive to tackle the poverty and social changes our community are about to experience.
The fact that I am running as an Independent Candidate, affiliated to no political party, is a core reason why many socialists, republicans, community activists and others felt comfortable in supporting and assisting the campaign. Furthermore, given my open declaration that if successfully elected I will be solely answerable to my community, has facilitated many endorsements from the wider socialist republican family in Belfast, and beyond.
These determined and driven individuals are the backbone of the election campaign and come from all walks of life; the campaign as such, has provided a common platform for all who are genuine in seeking an alternative voice elected to bring positive change and honest representation to west Belfast.
Given the viable alternative being offered and the enthusiasm met on the doorsteps of the Black Mountain Ward, it is unfortunate, yet expected, that the scaremongers and smear campaigns have been instigated by the status quo that fear real and positive alternatives.
It is of grave concern that several members of my election team are now incarcerated, essentially, interned by remand. Others have had their homes raided recently by the PSNI and integral members of the election team have been arrested, including that of my election manager Ivor Bell.
These are serious issues and should be condemned by all, including the constitutional parties who have been elected on the back of human rights abuses. This is an attack on all our human rights and a threat to democracy. Let it be known to those who support the idea of political policing, that this will not deter the hard work or voice of the working class and the will of our people will only be strengthened by such actions. We are confident and determined to succeed.
If you strike at, imprison, or kill us, out of our prisons or graves we will still evoke a spirit that will thwart you, and perhaps, raise a force that will destroy you! We defy you! Do your worst! - James Connolly