Belfast Telegraph

2012 'to be year of progress' in NI

History will look back on 2012 as a great year of progress for Northern Ireland, the Commons has been told.

Opening a debate on changing the perceptions of Northern Ireland, the DUP's William McCrea said the NI2012 campaign would highlight the best parts of the country.

South Antrim MP Dr McCrea said the people of Northern Ireland had come through decades of the Troubles and were now the happiest people in the United Kingdom.

He said: "Years of negativity have taken their toll but I genuinely believe people are starting to feel good about being from our wee country once more.

"This year will be a tremendous boost for Northern Ireland, with so much going on it is hard to keep track. The events in the province will include the opening of Titanic Belfast, the Olympic and Paralympic Torch Relay, the Irish Open at Royal Portrush, the arrival of the clipper Around the World yacht race.

"If you're not in Northern Ireland this year, you are no one."

Dr McCrea said a new spirit was sweeping Northern Ireland, which meant people were able to look at the history of the province not dispassionately but in a way which was not threatening. He said it was the aim of the DUP to foster greater understanding and learning about all the forces which drive Northern Ireland and its history.

He said: "People will not look forward to posterity who do not look backward to their ancestors. This year we do pause to look back in thankful remembrance for all that our ancestors and earlier generations have achieved. But we do so with a resolute determination to build upon the inheritance bequeathed to us.

"I hope posterity will record 2012 as a year of even greater progress in Northern Ireland."

Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson said the Government backed the "broad thrust" of the DUP motion before MPs.

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