A show of solidarity

I had to explain to Mom how the weekend’s dreadful incident is not indicative of going back to the bad days of the past. Indeed, I am encouraged by the prompt and so appropriate actions by the people of Antrim town: “A show of solidarity in Northern Ireland to keep past at bay”.

I do understand the challenges Sinn Fein has in dealing with this issue, considering their own torturous past (inflicted within and without). Yet this surely is a test for all of us; no one to gain by making political capital at another’s expense. Sure, I thought that was a vital lesson of our peace process: we’re not going anywhere without the other.

Though I notice that the BBC just couldn’t help themselves in highlighting the differences and negative images. In yesterday’s Politics Show, Jim Fitzpatrick asked some expected questions; Secretary of State Shaun Woodward and all concerned correctly put the discussion back into a calm and responsible frame (and to Fitzpatrick’s credit, did not attempt to re-muddy waters).

But national BBC failed here, by bedazzling a mainland audience with 1970s TV clips of exploding bombs, and hyperbole on road checks. Madame Oui, sensitive to our image to the rest of the world, exclaimed, “That’s just great … now everyone’s going to think we’re back to the bad days.”

Hopefully, our political leaders, and especially our First Minister and deputy First Minister, will demonstrably show this image is false. A joint appearance would go a long way.

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