The sun came out to welcome Steven to Enniskillen yesterday, as did lots of local people who are working in positive and co-operative ways to protect our environment, nurture our children, support our health and build a better, cleaner and fairer future. I don’t know whether I was prouder of the Green Party or of Fermanagh. Certainly when the two come together, joyful things happen!
We began at the Castle Museum, talking to representatives of Ulster Wildlife and to local farmers about Brexit, sustainable agriculture, the future of Fermanagh’s food industry, the county’s incredible biodiversity and the Magnificent Meadows project.
From there we went up to the Erne Integrated College, where we saw a small but magnificent meadow in situ, complete with yellow rattle (about which I’m becoming something of an enthusiast). Fortunately our friend Dara (who writes the brilliant Young Fermanagh Naturalist blog) was there to explain it all to us.
We also met some Year 11 students from the college and talked about votes at 16, fracking, the living wage, trade unions, integrated education, the NHS, the impasse at Stormont …. They were great conversations, with very thoughtful and articulate young people.
Our next stop was the Aisling Centre, where we heard about the vital work which they have done over the past twenty-six years in supporting the mental health needs of thousands of people in Fermanagh. We are extraordinarily fortunate to have such a skilled and sensitive service, and grateful to the sisters who had the vision to plant the first seeds.
Finally we ended the afternoon at the wonderful Happiness Trap café where Geoff, the Chair of the FST Greens was waiting for us. We restored our energies with delicious veggie food and smoothies, and enjoyed lots more conversation with local people.
It was a wonderful day, and I’m really grateful to Steven and Sinead for taking the time out of his own busy campaign to visit us, to Janie for chauffeuring us and taking the photos, to Jennifer and Eva from Ulster Wildlife, to Jimmy Jackson Ware the EIC principal, to Bridie at the Aisling Centre, Alan and Laura at the Happiness Trap and to everyone who came along to talk to us, ask questions and tell us more about some of the fantastic things happening in Fermanagh and the challenges which they face. Thank you all.