Sister Clare true face of province
Two deaths thousands of miles apart reveal the two faces of Northern Ireland. One was the barbaric killing of Ardoyne taxi driver Michael McGibbon, who was left to bleed to death after being shot in a dissident republican attack. Those who ordered and carried out that shooting have nothing to offer this society except fear, intimidation and gangsterism. They have no political agenda and very little support, and serve only to disgrace the name of this province.
By contrast the tragic death of Londonderry nun Sister Clare Theresa Crockett, killed in the earthquake that hit Ecuador, brought to our attention a young woman who had devoted much of her life to the service of others.
She died as she had lived trying to help others, leading young women who were intending to join her order out of a building when the stairwell collapsed killing them all.
Her death is an immense loss first of all for her family, who in their grief must also be tremendously proud of her and the work she carried out during her 15 years as a nun. She was the true face of Northern Ireland, a person moved by the plight of others and determined to help where she could.
She will also be hugely missed in Ecuador, where she was much-loved by those she was guiding towards the religious life.
She joined her order as a teenager, apparently coming to realise her vocation during a pilgrimage in Spain at the tender age of 18. That is the time of life when most young people are having the time of their life, yet she knew that there was more to her existence than just enjoying the good times.
In today's increasingly secular world many will look askance at young people who join the religious life but Sister Clare - like former BBC reporter Martina Purdy - felt that the call of God was her most important ambition and that giving to others brought greater rewards than any material-oriented lifestyle.
While the killers of Michael McGibbon have ruined the lives of his wife and four children and cast a pall over his entire family circle, Sister Clare will be remembered fondly both in Northern Ireland and in Ecuador.
She was a true ambassador for this province wherever she went and it is people like her in all walks of life that we need to show the positive image of this community.
She led by example, asking nothing in return but to see people in need prosper in their outlook and circumstances.