Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 2 August 2014

Symbolic gestures vital to normalisation of relations

The sight of Sinn Fein members at the very heart of the British establishment is enough to make you do a double take. Three members were in the Palace of Westminster to hear Irish President Michael D Higgins address both Houses of Parliament, although the republican party still refuses to take its seats in the Commons. And Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness accepted an invite to the banquet at Windsor Castle to mark this first official State visit by an Irish President.

While some people bereaved by IRA violence protested outside the castle at Mr McGuinness's attendance, it is important that such symbolic gestures like those by Sinn Fein and, on a grander scale, by the Queen and President Higgins, continue to give impetus to the peace process.

If they can be replicated on the ground in our still divided province, so much the better.

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