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Inclusive message from First Minister took real courage

By Liam Clarke

Published 11/03/2011

DUP leader Peter Robinson
DUP leader Peter Robinson

Peter Robinson's attempts to build a more inclusive society, not to mention attracting middle-ground support, took courage. He will need that quality in spades to follow through on them in practice.

This was brought home to me in a recent conversation with the Rev David McIlveen. This prominent Free Presbyterian Minister is also a DUP voter and supporter; part of the party's core support.

We talked about how Mr Robinson had recently told me that, in future, he would not avoid Catholic funerals just because Mass was said at them.

Mr Robinson would, he explained, go out of respect where he felt it appropriate, but not as an act of worship.

The Rev McIlveen feels this is wrong on theological grounds, but he won't be "overly critical" unless Mr Robinson actually attends.

"Whether Peter takes on-board the views of what is still a fairly sizeable voting constituency is a matter for him," he said.

"If he faced that situation, you don't know what decision he would make."

In other words, he thinks it may never happen.

Integrated education is another issue Mr Robinson raised without - so far - taking any definite action.

Voters of all shades will be assessing his follow-through in the coming months.

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