Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Flagging up problems with Anna Lo's vision

I AM afraid I do not share the call by Anna Lo to remove all paramilitary emblems and murals on the route that the cyclists, who are taking part in the Giro d'Italia cycle race, will follow.

In the first instance it would be well nigh impossible, for the competitors not to see some indication of social /political/religious division, that has got Northern Ireland worldwide media attention, admittedly for the wrong reasons.

At the height of the 'Troubles' as they are generally referred to, I was honoured to extend hospitality to three visitors, one from Scotland and the other two from Japan.

The first visitor was a Scottish journalist. She got a whirlwind tour of Belfast, including the Falls, Shankill and other unsavoury places at that time.

I asked her did she see anything that shocked her, and she replied 'No', saying that she saw the same negative symbols of hate in her home city of Glasgow.

My two Japanese visitors, stayed a few days and got a more extensive tour. They were stunned by the friendliness of the people, and the hospitality they enjoyed.

On departing, one said: "Harry, the international press paints very wrong picture of Northern Ireland".

So I say to Anna Lo, think positive, leave the emblems of division alone, for it is to the credit of everyone, that Northern Ireland is able to host such a race, as our renowned friendliness and hospitality will win in the end.

Harry Stephenson

Kircubbin

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