Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Courage can see us through cold spell

The worst snowfalls in Northern Ireland for 25 years have created enormous challenges for people everywhere. Among the hardest hit are the travellers, with both main airports at a standstill, while the minor roads, streets and avenues remain treacherous.

Traders have been suffering, with many small businesses becoming vulnerable to a loss of income at a time of the year which is traditionally their best period.

Hotels and clubs are also facing setbacks, with many cancellations for dinners and parties during one of their normally busiest weekends.

This is the unwelcome outcome of a prolonged cold snap, but the icy winds and falling snow also create a time for heroes. Despite the Arctic conditions, people in the caring services have been working hard, including those providing emergency medical treatment.

Home helps and those bringing meals-on-wheels provide a vital service for the house-bound, and they deserve thanks and encouragement in their role.

This is also a time for keeping a watchful eye on neighbours, especially those who live alone and may be unable to cope. A good neighbour is someone who literally cares, who checks if there is a need, and who does something about it.

Special thanks are also due to members of the Roads Service, and particularly those who have been working hard to grit the main roads. Much of their work is often done at night, in the worst of conditions while the rest of us are enjoying the comforts of home.

The pavements in all parts of the province continue to present problems, and they provide great danger to pedestrians of all ages, and not just the elderly. Some of the councils are at last meeting the challenge through their gritting programmes, but overall the councils have much to learn from their Roads Service colleagues.

However, this is not a time for faint hearts, and people are remarkably adaptable. Certainly with common sense, courage and good neighbours we can endure the worst of our cold and deep midwinter.

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