WEST Belfast MLA Fra McCann has told of his delight after marrying his partner of 39 years, Janette Leckey. 

The pair tied the knot during a small ceremony officiated by Fr Brian Watters at St Peter’s Cathedral on Monday evening. 

Fra and Janette broke the good news after days of secrecy in the lead up to the wedding which, due to Coronavirus restrictions, was attended by a group of close friends and family including their daughter Joanne, grandchildren Padraig and Fiadhna, and Janette’s mother Jean.

It comes less than two years after the Sinn Féin MLA revealed he had been diagnosed with cancer.

After 39 years of love and devotion, the couple “felt it was the right time” to get married, Fra said. 

“Everybody was in shock when they learned, because a lot of people thought we were married already,” he revealed.

“We hadn’t really spoken about getting married before, and in the past it wasn’t something we really discussed – it was just something that was raised now and again by one or other of us. 

SPECIAL MOMENT: Fra and Janette with family in St Peter’s

SPECIAL MOMENT: Fra and Janette with family in St Peter’s

“Obviously I’m getting on, Janette’s getting on, Janette’s 60 and I’m 67 and her mother would’ve liked to have seen us doing what we did last night. 

“After talking about it we thought the time was right. It’s just unfortunate that it’s done under the present circumstances. Obviously we would have liked to have shared it with our many friends and family but we can do that in the future.

“It just copper-fastens what the two of us have had together over that length of time,” Fra said.  “We have the utmost respect and love for each other, so it’s not just another day.  “It’s a new addition to the relationship that we have.”

Fra met Janette at a function in the Divis Community Centre shortly after the hunger strike of 1981 when people of the community “had lost so much”.  

“Some people say that I was lucky man, I say both of us were lucky, but I was a lucky man,” he revealed. 

“The relationship just blossomed from there and we’ve been with each other ever since then, through good times but also through really difficult and bad times too.

“As a political activist and a local councillor I was usually out of the house, and she was always in a house that had the possibility of attack by loyalists, the British or others. I’m just glad that she was able to stick me over that period of time.”

He added: “I just feel blessed that I’ve had her in my life.”

Of course a honeymoon break is out of the question, but Fra joked that he and his new wife “might go out to the backyard and look up at the stars or something”.

Once things clear up and some type of normality returns I’ve no doubt that we’ll get some time away. “All we can do is look forward to that and enjoy what life we have left.”