Belfast Telegraph

We can't slip back into bad old days

Editor's Viewpoint

The announcement of 400 new jobs for Larne from a Japanese firm is very welcome, particularly in a town which saw the devastating loss of 800 jobs last year. Of course there was a certain amount of choreography involved in revealing the jobs boost just after the G8 summit, but the positive investment message will still not be lost back in Japan or in the other countries which participated in the meeting.

The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid Northern Ireland a glowing tribute as a treasure trove of openness, innovation and challenge and broadly hinted of further potential investment.

His invitation to the First and Deputy First Minister to visit Japan is another feather in the cap of the province and should help to cement relationships with that economic powerhouse where personal contact is so highly regarded.

This could be a lasting legacy of the G8, forging new trade agreements between Japan and Northern Ireland and possibly creating more high value jobs with a technology background.

But as Northern Ireland basks in the glow of positive publicity from its hosting of the summit, everyone is still aware that with the marching season upon us, there is potential for much of the good work to be undone.

This is a time for cool heads among politicians, community and church leaders. It is a time for respect – for cultural traditions of the marchers and for rights of residents along parade routes.

We know that this is a volatile time of the year and those with mischievous intent can easily manufacture confrontation and create damaging headlines. Having heard the world's most powerful leaders praise the progress made in this region in moving towards peace, it would be sad in the extreme to see those encouraging words replaced with images of conflict and violence.

Hard-headed business leaders look for stability in areas where they seek to invest. Any suggestion that Northern Ireland could return to its bad old days would have long-lasting consequences.

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