John Cushnahan: I cherish my small contribution to the demolition of the Berlin Wall thirty years ago

John Cushnahan, then an MEP who prior to that had been the leader of the Alliance Party, at the Berlin Wall in 1989, not long after he was elected to Strasbourg. "I expressed my solidarity with the people of Germany and joined those who demolished the wall and consigned all that it represented to the dustbin of history"
John Cushnahan, then an MEP who prior to that had been the leader of the Alliance Party, at the Berlin Wall in 1989, not long after he was elected to Strasbourg. "I expressed my solidarity with the people of Germany and joined those who demolished the wall and consigned all that it represented to the dustbin of history"
Share this article

In 1989, two years after standing down as leader of the Alliance Party, I was elected as a Fine Gael MEP for Munster.

Not long after that, I was fortunate to visit Berlin with some colleagues from the European Parliament following the opening of the border between the former German Democratic Republic and West Germany.

It was an exciting time to visit the city at such an important and momentous historical juncture not only for Germany but for the whole continent of Europe.

Within eleven months German reunification would have taken place, the Soviet empire collapsed and many of its satellite states would have shaken off the chains of communist dictatorial rule and began the transition towards democracy, embracing the EU Acquis Communitaire and preparing for full European Union Membership.

By the time I left the European Parliament in 2004, ten of these countries would join the EU as fully fledged members (although it has to be acknowledged that today several of them are not behaving as if they genuinely share our European values and our respect for full democracy and human rights and their failure to discharge their obligations needs to be challenged).

In this thirty-year-old photograph above I expressed my solidarity with the people of Germany and joined those who demolished the wall and consigned all that it represented to the dustbin of history.

I still retain the fragments of the wall that I chiseled off in the photo and keep them as a reminder why we must always remain vigilant against opponents of our democratic values.

• John Cushnahan was leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland from 1984 until 1987 and a Fine Gael MEP for Munster from 1989 until 2004