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After this unwanted election, political heavyweights must finally accept they need to embrace diversity

letter of the day: SECTARIAN DIVISION

An old Kenyan proverb says that, when elephants fight, "it is the grass that gets trampled". Sure enough, the two elephants of Northern Ireland politics have dragged us all into a totally unwanted election and they've immediately started pressing the old divisive buttons that previously caused death, destruction and tragedy.

Most of the community were simply getting on with their lives, showing we can build relationships around the things we share and embrace diversity in an ever-changing society.

Rather than embrace politics that focus on delivery, Sinn Fein and the DUP have reverted to type and are dragging us back and down. Sinn Fein can't accept they need to show that Northern Ireland can work before anyone will believe that a united Ireland would work.

Nor have they accepted that they need to embrace the British-Irish tradition, shared by around one million people, before anyone will take their claims about an "Ireland of equals" seriously.

For its part, the DUP holds on to the remnants of ideas about a Protestant parliament for Protestant people. If it wants to promote Northern Ireland properly, it has to recognise that the Irish language has a place and make others from our increasingly diverse society feel welcome, too.

Constant political and sectarian bitterness means we're in danger of losing sight of the fact that we have it so much better than many people in the world.

There are social and economic challenges, including damage caused by our violent past, but we have met and overcome challenges before.

Realistically, this needless election will be followed by a period of negotiation. Our community has to be more robust about what it demands from its politicians. There is a real opportunity to ensure that what happened previously on this island never happens again.

We should make it abundantly clear, as a society, that we expect nothing less.

TREVOR RINGLAND

Holywood, Co Down

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