The following article by Carrickfergus Councillor Andrew Wilson, appeared in the Newsletter on Friday 4th January 2013.
The Name of Edgar Graham, murdered by IRA terrorists in 1983, lives On Within Ulster Unionism
One of my first encounters with politics in Northern Ireland was a trip to the Northern Ireland Assembly in the early 2000’s. To this day, the following inscription on the wall outside the Assembly chamber remains with me: “In memory of Edgar Samuel David Graham, Assembly Member for Belfast South 1982-1983. Shot by terrorists on 7 December 1983. Keep alive the light of justice.”
That cold blooded murder took place some 5 years before my birth, on campus at my current place of study, Queens University Belfast, but Edgar Graham would turn out to be one of the reasons that I decided to get involved as an activist, and then as an elected representative, aged 23, for the Ulster Unionist Party. The relative youth of Edgar when he was murdered has always shocked me.
Such was the calibre of Edgar Graham that the then UUP Leader Lord Molyneaux spoke of how “Mr. Graham would have become Leader of our Party”. As a 29 year old law academic who was already making heads turn in the political sphere, he was everything that any young elected representative in Northern Ireland should aspire to. An intelligent, hard-working individual who cared passionately about Northern Ireland and its people.
That was why the Provisional IRA murdered him on the steps of Queen’s University.
In his memory the Ulster Unionist Party introduced the Edgar Graham scheme of bursaries and I was a recipient in 2010, with the funding made available to me going towards my final year undergraduate thesis on comparative conflict resolution.
As a current postgraduate Law student at Queens University Belfast and as a local Government Councillor in Carrickfergus, I have not forgotten the ultimate sacrifice made by men such as Edgar Graham, Councillor Charles Armstrong and Rev. Robert Bradford MP during the troubles.
These men are hard acts to follow. In the case of Edgar Graham, he was unwavering in his support of the Union at a time when it was easier to remain in relative obscurity and safety as an academic of high pedigree, talent and potential. His only crime was to take an active role in democratic politics in search of progress in Northern Ireland for all.
It sends a chill down my spine no matter how many times I think about students cheering the news of Edgar Graham’s murder when it was announced over the tannoy system in the Students Union.
We in the Ulster Unionists remember Edgar’s death annually and it is heartening to see so many young Ulster Unionists getting actively involved in student politics at Queens University Belfast, in both the council and senate during 2012-13 seeking in their own way to “keep alive the light of justice”.
Councillor Andrew Wilson, Ulster Unionist, Carrickfergus Borough Council and QUB Law student