Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Life goes on despite diehards obsessed with 300 yards of road in Ardoyne

Every week hundreds of thousands of gainfully employed people get into their cars, board buses and trains and head towards their work...

Every  morning this week construction workers and engineers brave the soaring temperatures and risk of sun stroke to work on major projects, such as the widening of the A2 dual carriageway near Jordanstown...

 

Everyday office workers across the public and private sector un-button the top button, roll up their sleeves and look yearningly at the glorious weather...

 

Every day this week those off work and grandparents can be seen around seaside resorts enjoying ice cream cones and lathering sunscreen on children unaccustomed to the bright yellow ball in the sky appearing overhead so frequently...

 

And then we have the other side of the story.

 

While almost the entire population of Northern Ireland have better things to do, a few diehards have become obsessed with 300 yards of road.

 

We're not interested in who is wrong or who is right. We're not even interested in whether the 'determination' of the Parade's Commission was right or wrong. We're not even interested whether paraders, protesters or counter protesters were right or wrong.

 

We're not even interested in whether it is a fight against triumphalism or a fight to protect a culture.

 

We are, however ,extremely interested in the recent  pictures of rioters setting their communities ablaze. While these disturbances may have only been isolated pockets of trouble, that is not the image that has been projected around the world.

 

Some among our political classes appear not to stop to think when they answer a call from the media, as to whether their words will fan the flames of petrol bombs. And if they do, the hand soap is nearby to wash away any perceived blame.

 

While all condemned violence, did any of our political representatives think about whether their rowing and bickering on the airwaves would reinforce the feelings of isolation among working class communities in the cauldron of north and west Belfast?

 

The brief hope of accommodation between the two 'sides' contesting a parade on the city’s Crumlin Road flickered and died all too quickly before the Twelfth.  We can but hope that Dr Haas can manage to bang heads together in the autumn to reach some sort of 'arrangement'.  A mammoth task awaits our American friend.

 

In the meantime, we hope that every time an MLA is interviewed on the radio or television, they talk about the fantastic, well trained, employable population and investment opportunities that exist in our region’.

 

We hope that any MLAs interviewed by the foreign press simply say: "Yes, we have our disagreements, but we are united in our common purpose of providing employment and a booming economy”.

 

Out-of-step...in a good way!

 

Northern Ireland remains a strange wee place to live. While the minimum pricing of alcohol has been shelved at Westminster and awaits legal proceedings in Scotland, we here are still considering it.

 

And, while cigarette legislation has stalled in England and Wales, Health Minister, Edwin Poots is pressing ahead to introduce yet more restrictions.

 

Given that Northern Ireland is normally behind the curb on such matters, this is at least a sign that we can lead the way in advancing public health.

 

Whether this is as a result of some dour presbyterian principles or concerns over the poor health of our population, is not the real point.

 

We have a chance to be world leaders in something other than civil disorder.

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