Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Robinson hails 'peacetime politics'

First Minister Peter Robinson says Northern Ireland is entering an era of 'peacetime politics'

Unionists and nationalists are breaking down old barriers and entering an era of "peacetime politics", the First Minister has said.

The DUP leader Peter Robinson was reacting to the cross-community support for the family of murdered policeman Ronan Kerr, plus the response to the Queen's plans to visit the GAA's Croke Park headquarters.

But the hardline Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) hit out at the plans for the Queen also to visit the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin which commemorates those killed fighting British rule.

Mr Robinson attended the funeral of the 25-year-old policeman in Beragh, Co Tyrone, and was the first DUP leader to attend a Catholic Mass. He was joined by Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, as well as Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, with their presence at the officer's funeral also seen as a landmark moment.

Ulster Unionist Party leader and senior Orangeman Tom Elliott was also among the mourners, despite Orange Order rules barring members from attending Catholic Mass.

The First Minister said: "We are seeing things happening, and sometimes we get complacent about these things, these are things that we would never have seen 10, 20 years ago. And people are making an effort to get out of their comfort zone, to do things that they haven't done before, and to reach out to the other section of this community."

He told the BBC he welcomed the development, saying: "I think that's good. It indicates that we are now in peacetime politics."

The Queen is also set to visit the Garden of Remembrance which commemorates those who have died for Irish independence, but TUV leader Jim Allister said: "TUV believes it would be most unwise for Her Majesty the Queen to visit the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin. The individuals commemorated there were no friends of the Royal Family and used terrorism against the Crown forces.

"Remember the 'blood sacrifice' so often talked about by Patrick Pearse and the other terrorists who engaged in the Easter Rising inspired later generations to carry out similar acts of 'heroic bravery' for the cause of 'Irish freedom' such as the murder of Her Majesty's cousin, Lord Mountbatten in 1979 along with 14-year-old Nicholas Knatchbull and 15-year-old Paul Maxwell. The tradition of Pearse was again carried on by those who murdered Constable Kerr on Saturday.

"It is vital that Her Majesty the Queen is not used as a political football in order to make a misguided point about the 'peace process'."

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