Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Leaders must be focused on peace

Given the fractured nature of politics in Northern Ireland, it is easy to be pessimistic about the long-term viability of the power-sharing arrangements.

However, the words of arguably the two most influential politicians in the province — Peter Robinson and Gerry Adams — carried in this newspaper today, give grounds for hope. Both are confident that the recent agreement over the devolution of policing and justice can pave the way towards a better, more stable future.

Both men have undergone torrid personal upheaval recently, but both are determined to stay at the forefront of politics and to use their influence to overcome obstacles. For, in spite of their encouraging words, it is clear that many obstacles still remain.

The issue of parades is one which has proved intractable in the past and which now demands a resolution in a very short time frame. Both men set out the problem — unionists feel nationalists are denying them their right to walk the highway while nationalists feel marchers should seek the agreement of residents. How to square that circle is the big question.

Yet it is obvious that the two party leaders are buoyed by their success in bringing their respective camps to the position where full devolution of |powers back into local hands has almost been achieved. Both are aware that there are determined opponents to the stances they have taken, but feel sufficiently emboldened to challenge them to strike any better deals for the people of Northern Ireland.

Ultimately that is the challenge for politicians of all hues. How do they best preserve the hard-won peace and build upon it to create a truly shared and prosperous society? That has not yet been achieved by the power-sharing administration, but, at least, there is a new sense of urgency to find a way through some of political logjams. It will take |leaders of the stature of Robinson and Adams to keep their parties focused on that target.

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