A veteran Ulster Unionist politician is to help a former Fianna Fáíl mayor of Clare to launch a new book providing a personal insight into north-south relations.
Roy Beggs Snr will join Flan Garvey, author of ‘Inside Minds North and South – Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right’, at the Wellington Park Hotel, Belfast, on Saturday.
The publication of the memoir also marks the 30th anniversary of the first-ever twinning of a local authority in Northern Ireland – Newry and Mourne District Council – with a council in the south – Clare County Council.
In the course of the 183-page book, Mr Garvey, who will also be joined by former deputy lord mayor of Belfast Máire Hendron of the Alliance Party at the launch, traces his life from strong republican roots to a time when the men he once believed he hated were among his closest friends.
One such friend, Mr Beggs, described Mr Garvey as “the only republican I would call a friend”.
“Flan is an excellent contact and genuine friend. There is nobody to my mind who promoted good relations from the south better than Flan Garvey.
“He is just a great ambassador for county and country,” said the former East Antrim MP.
“Flan is a unique character. He is the best ambassador that Clare tourism ever authorised,” added Mr Beggs, recalling how the Clare man also provided guidance to him and his council colleagues as they embarked on the Gobbins Cliff Path Project at Islandmagee.
Mr Beggs also credits Mr Garvey with single-handedly meeting councillors of all parties from Northern Ireland and encouraging them to get involved in a north-south tourism programme, The Clare Tourism Conference.
The book suggests history was being made with small gestures of friendship at every step as the author recounts early scepticism of colleagues over twinning to his attendance of a Twelfth of July parade in Kilkeel.
Offering her support, Ms Hendron said: “I am a member of the Alliance Party, which was formed to do what Flan is saying he is working towards here. We are all working in the same direction.”
l ‘Inside Minds North and South – Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right’ is published by Stop The Press Publishing.