It was just over ten years ago.
I had been voting Sinn Féin from 1993.
I went along to a Sinn Féin meeting with the intention of signing up.
During the meeting, there was an announcement of a coach trip to an annual commemoration at a memorial to some IRA volunteers. I thought…hmmm this is post-Good Friday Agreement? Isnt this “new” Sinn Féin? I cant be arsed with coach trips.
But it surprisingly difficult to join Sinn Féin. Or at least it was difficult that night.
It was not a matter of simply signing up and handing over a £10 note.
The Secretary gave me a sealed envelope. A message from Gerry Adams apparently. And if I still wanted to sign up then I could go back.
I am not sure which was worse, the thought of a coach trip with some Shinners. Or the thought that I somehow needed the permission of Gerry Adams to join Sinn Féin.
I don’t know what the message was. It might have been the third secret of Fatima. I burned the envelope without opening it.
And the next time I voted….it was for Alban Magennis (SDLP) in the 2009 European Election.