Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Dignified day gives grounds for hope

There is a sense of relief all round, following Saturday's commemoration of the centenary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant in 1912.

Overall this turned out to be a day of dignity, and also a large collective celebration of the traditions of one major community in Northern Ireland. Despite the controversial build-up, the parade passed off peacefully with apparently only a small number of breaches of the Parades Commission's determination.

However, a single breach is one too many. The police are right to investigate what happened and to report the findings to the Parades Commission which will take these into account when making future decisions.

Nevertheless it is also important to remember that this commemoration of a major milestone in the history of unionism was carried out in an atmosphere of relative peace and calm.

This was due to the valiant efforts of many people from all backgrounds, and lessons can be learned which will be of benefit within this decade of other important commemorations.

A senior policeman has underlined this by noting that Saturday's successful parade "will create a more positive platform for dealing with sensitive parades in 2013". It is important for everyone to try to find an accommodation at grassroots level which will allow people on both sides to carry out their commemorations with sincerity and dignity, and also to remain sensitive to the feelings of others.

This will require a continued willingness not to seek or give offence, and an awareness that bad publicity tarnishes the image of Northern Ireland.

The events on Saturday showed what can be achieved with co-operation and good sense, but much remains to be done. The marching season will continue soon enough but this is the time to continue the hard work at local level to reach agreement as quickly and as quietly as possible.

We have enough problems and challenges to face, without having to spend time, money and effort in continuing to deal with street confrontations.

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