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After a year of ups and downs, more challenges lie ahead

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 26/12/2015

Syrian refugees
Syrian refugees

Boxing Day remains very much a family occasion as the Christmas Season continues. In the next few days, there will also be a period for quiet reflections on the past year, and the hopes for 2016.

The horrific Isis attacks in France, Tunisia and other places, including the USA, have been a stark warning from those bent on a "holy war ", and outrages like this may continue.

There has also been an unprecedented influx of refugees, and this will continue to pose a major challenge to the EU. While we warmly welcome those Syrian families who have recently come to live in Northern Ireland, we all must guard against racism in our midst.

This has been a year of major political developments, including the unexpected election victory of the Tories, and the emergence of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader.

In Northern Ireland after the near-collapse of Stormont, a settlement has been agreed at last.

There have also been important changes in leadership, with Arlene Foster of the DUP taking over as leader from the extremely capable Peter Robinson, and the SDLP's old guard leader Alasdair McDonnell having to make way for the youthful Colum Eastwood.

These changes, plus the UUP's move into a position of virtual opposition at Stormont, may point to a new alignment in our local politics, particularly after the next election.

In sporting terms this has been a memorable year, with Ireland winning another major rugby championship, AP McCoy retiring, Rory McIroy staying at the top, and the two Irish national soccer teams reaching a major championship for the first time.

There is much to look forward to in 2016, including the European football finals, and hopefully more stable and decisive government at Stormont in the face of many serious challenges.

However, the greatest requirement of all is still the message of goodwill which is at the heart of Christmas, and which we need all the year round if we are to make progress as a shared society.

Belfast Telegraph

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