Multiple District 105 Convention, Waterfront Hall, Belfast,

Saturday 7th May 2011

Lord Mayor, Chairman of Council, International President, other distinguished guests, and fellow Lions. First I would like to thank District Governor Terence Mangan for asking me to perform this task. I am privileged to do so and it is with a certain amount of nervousness but also pride that I now welcome you, Councillor Pat Convery. Like yourself, I am a blow-in, who has been here only 26 years or so. Whereas you came from another part of NI, County Derry, I came from Dublin to cover the troubles for RTÉ News as a TV reporter. Both of us, I hope have come to admire this city which forty years ago was torn apart by violence and now seeks a new way forward in peaceful times. “Pro tanto quid retribuamus” is the motto: In return for so much, what shall we give back. A very appropriate one also for Lions, whose  function as a voluntary group is service to the community. That service was inspired in this city since 1958 by a businessman who many of you will remember, Bert Mason. He has a special place in Lions history as he went on to become International President in 1984. He was a founder member of the Belfast Lions Club, the third in this district to be chartered after Dublin and Cork. One of their first schemes was a meals on wheels service in East Belfast, which was later extended to other areas. From a small beginning a significant structure was built and lasted for over forty years.

Bert who came from Donaghadee passed to his eternal reward in 2007. It was his view that Lionism is one of the greatest unifying forces in the world, bringing together people from different cultures, politics and religions, all answering the call to serve.

I hope that spirit he spoke about will live on in the revived Belfast Lions Club. We were set up in February and our first public fundraising event was two days ago, a table quiz which has brought in over £1,000 to start our work of service. Various projects will now be considered such as the message in a bottle scheme and the collection of unused spectacles. There is also the service of a soup run performed at weekends by one of our members, helping the homeless, especially those from abroad. It’s the other face of Belfast but one to which this club must reach out if we are to live up to the early ideals of its predecessor. If there is any practical way in which we can work with Belfast City Council on some of the schemes then we would be interested to discuss this at some stage.

During your year of office you have focused on making Belfast a safe, clean, prosperous and a united city and attempted to revitalise it. I hope Belfast Lions will now be able to make a contribution to those important goals. I now call on you Lord Mayor to open formally the convention of multiple district 105, British Isles & Ireland.