Thursday 29 September 2016

Answers on the North won't be found in past

Published 18/09/2015 | 02:30

DUP leader Peter Robinson
DUP leader Peter Robinson

At a time when the North's political leaders have once more become entangled in the straps of their own political straitjackets, the words of British ambassador Dominick Chilcott should be heeded closely. He urged all sides to look ahead, noting that a better future did not involve "trying to convert unionists into republicans or vice versa".

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He also said that the grave developments in recent weeks must serve as a reminder that the road to normalisation is still long and windy "with plenty of bumps".

Mr Chilcott correctly identified that the "great collective task" for political leaders and administrations was to overcome the legacy of the past and build together a better future for everyone. Speaking at the same engagement, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams suggested that a united Ireland would emerge in the future, but that it "may not be the one traditionally envisaged over the years".

He said there would be Orange Order parades in a united Ireland. The point at this remove ought really to be that whether the parades are orange or green, they should really by now be a side issue. And they would be, if the North's leaders embraced the spirit as well as the conditions of the Good Friday Agreement which they signed to such fanfare. Instead, both sides have insisted on keeping one foot in the past, crippling progress and the potential to move ahead.

With the talks on breaking the deadlock about to start again, the message from ambassador Chilcott could hardly be more apposite.

Irish Independent

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