Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Editor's Viewpoint: Ulster murders - these fanatics aren't who we are

The scene of the murder of Barry McCrory on Shipquay Street in Derry on Thursday. The man was gunned down in an apartment above the Foyle Financial building in the city centre. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
The scene of the murder of Barry McCrory on Shipquay Street in Derry on Thursday. The man was gunned down in an apartment above the Foyle Financial building in the city centre. Picture Margaret McLaughlin

The foreign delegates attending the investment conference in Belfast today must be wondering just what sort of a place Northern Ireland is.

They will read in their newspapers today, or see on television or hear on the radio, reports of two cold-blooded broad daylight assassinations carried out by dissident republican groups.

If they probe a little further they may see evidence of dysfunction and tension with government or notice that occasional bomb scares still occur causing some disruption to daily life or that protests over marches or flags continue.

But they will know that this sort of news is what makes the headlines in the media. It is the same in their own homelands.

It is in the nature of the media – and this newspaper is no exception – to give prominence to events that we wish did not happen, but which show up the worst side of humanity. Society operates well, is not a headline the delegates will ever read, or hear, no matter where they do business.

Yet that is the message that we want them to take away today. For the news that often makes the headlines involves the activities of only a tiny proportion of the population. They give a distorted image of the province.

Northern Ireland is a much more complex society and a far more positive one than is often portrayed, especially internationally.

How often will the delegates have read reports that our schoolchildren are among the highest achieving in the UK reflecting on the very many great schools that we have here?

Are they aware that our young people are hungry for the opportunity to prove their worth in the workplace without having to leave their native shores? Do they realise that the workforce here is highly aspirational and given the opportunity can produce world-class products and services?

Given the news of recent days since their arrival, the existing and potential investors may have gained a skewed impression of life here. We can assure them that those who sully our reputation are in a dwindling minority. They are not who we – the overwhelming majority of people – really are.

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