Business as usual in Belfast, or they bombers won
It may be approaching the season of peace and goodwill, but there are those on the streets of our two main cities, in particular, who are determined stamp out any festive cheer.
There has been a surge in dissident republican terrorism in recent weeks, with attempts to bomb a police station in Londonderry, letter bombs sent to senior police officers and secretary of state, an attempt to kill a former policeman with a booby-trap bomb under his car and an attempt to blow up Belfast's flagship Victoria Square shopping centre.
And, as if that was not enough, flag protestors are to hold a protest in Belfast this Saturday – one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
Looking at this list of terrorist activity and loyalist protest, it would be easy to be despondent and feel that the hard-won peace in Northern Ireland is crumbling.
But that would be to ignore the reaction of the ordinary people, including some of those caught up in bombing attempts. The driver of a bus in Londonderry refused to take a bomb loaded onto the vehicle to the intended target; another would-be proxy bomber ran away from the terrorists rather than do their dirty work, and the man forced to drive the bomb to Victoria Square immediately raised the alarm, preventing potential mayhem.
These people showed enormous courage in standing up for what they believe in. Just like the overwhelming mass of people in this province, they want peace. They shun any thought of a return to the violence of the past, which caused untold pain to tens of thousands of people. Their answer to the men of violence is to go about their daily business, trying to regenerate the economy and trying to build a new Northern Ireland.
That is what they did during the Troubles and that is what they must continue to do. Our retailers cannot afford another Christmas of disruption. The economy depends on people spending and creating and sustaining jobs.
The simple message to the terrorists and the protestors must be one of business as usual. Anything else would be a victory for the dark forces still on our streets.
Lagan duck race will bring a smile to all who enter
If you find the above somewhat depressing, then we have the perfect antidote. Want something to cheer you up, then why not enter the Lagan duck race this coming Sunday. Just register on the Belfast Telegraph website and then go along to the river bank and cheer on your little yellow rubber duck.
You could win a family ticket to the Mac's hilarious Christmas show and a packed food hamper from retailer Lidl. No matter what else is happening in the city, this duck derby is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. A bit of fun is always in-season, so sign up and, you never know, you could be laughing all the way to – and from – the theatre this Christmas.