Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Thugs will never break our spirit

Given recent events in Northern Ireland, it is tempting to imagine we are living through some dreadful re-run of the dark days we had hoped had gone forever.

Two brutal daylight murders, masked gunmen ordering people to leave the Ardoyne area of north Belfast, 14 bomb scares in 10 days causing havoc to rush hour traffic and hitting the everyday activity of people either going to work or keeping hospital appointments or bringing children to school, and threats of more loyalist protests over flags and marching.

It is a depressing catalogue of disruption by dissident republicans and loyalists, both intent on fighting fights they cannot win, but which can cause misery to the vast majority of people who want no part of their squabbles.

What they are succeeding in doing is giving the province a bad reputation at a time when the first green shoots of economic recovery are emerging with rising house prices and increased activity and productivity across a wide range of sectors.

Last week, we appealed to those attending the economic conference here not to be mislead by the signs of trouble and strife that they may read or hear. Those nihilistic forces creating trouble are small in number and totally unrepresentative of the population at large. And, as they did during the worst of the Troubles, the ordinary people show their resilience time after time, determined to lead a better and more prosperous life. They have never been cowed by terrorist threat or loyalist bully-boys and won't be now.

Today we are certain the ordinary people will continue about their work as normal, the business community will open its shops, pubs, offices and factories and, no matter what obstacles are placed in their way, it will be business as usual across the province.

Shoppers backed Belfast – a campaign begun by this newspaper last Christmas – during the worst of the flag protests and they will again, no matter what section of society the threats or disruption come from.

The overwhelming majority of people will not surrender to those trying to drag the province down.

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