Keir Starmer inspired by ‘incredible history’ of St. Columb’s and ‘great historic figure’ of John Hume
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The British Labour leader was in the city as a guest of The John & Pat Hume Foundation and addressed politics students from St. Columb’s and the Foyle Learning Community at the College’s Buncrana Road campus.
“It's been fantastic to be in the school, to be talking to you and to be feeling part of your history, and it's an incredible history.
“John Hume, not just John Hume, so many incredible people have been through this school. It is absolutely amazing and you must feel that.
"I want to speak particularly to the young people in the room - that sense of history, that sense of pride, that sense of the change that has happened through this school and the people who came before you – you should wear that with pride, with real pride,” he said.
The Holborn and St. Pancras MP acknowledged the late John Hume as an inspiration.
"John was a great historic figure, so well respected, and I have John in mind when I think of the big decisions we have to make as a Labour Party as the opposition and hopefully one day as the government.”
He said it was important for the current cohort at St. Columb’s not to be daunted by history and to be forward-looking.
“It's not just about who went through this school but it's about who is going through this school now and I want you to have this sense of your lives.”
The would-be Prime Minister revealed that he was very familiar with the city from his days as a human rights advisor to the NI Policing Board in between 2003 and 2008.
“I love being in Derry. I have been here many, many times,” he said, and shared a reflection of personal happy memories.
“When I got married, the first year we got married, I brought my wife here because I kept talking to her about NI and so in the year we were married we came here, in the first August we were married, flew into Belfast, got a small car in Belfast and then spent three weeks driving around the whole island of Ireland, including here through Derry, so my wife could appreciate what I was going on about!”
The Labour Party leader acknowledged the imminent approach of the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
“As we reflect on the last 25 years this year, as we inevitably, will perhaps we should also be saying, what about the next 25 years?
“What does that mean economically for NI? How can we drive that forward so that in 20 years when somebody else is probably standing here talking to the next generation of students, we'll be saying, ‘look what we did in the past 25 years in terms of driving those living standards up.’
“So that's something we absolutely want to drive towards and I think that will make a big, big difference here. Is it infrastructure? Is it roads? Is it trains? Can we get those businesses, fantastic businesses in Derry....so that technology, that innovation is all, all here.”