Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Forecast looks gloomy as flags muddy the waters

AS we enter another year, it is customary to reflect on the past and speculate on the future. Driving the other night from Greencastle in Co Donegal to Derry in appalling weather conditions – after being told the Foyle Ferry Service may never run again – my mind was not in optimistic mode.

Are we sliding backwards into an abyss where we have been before? Are we providing the excuses or the causes for those who, in the past, took us to the brink of insanity?

Are we now firmly in a process where cross-border co-operation is a bad word, where transport modes that take us from north to south are taboo? Are the A5, the Narrow Water Bridge, the Foyle ferry service issues that we cannot talk about while we sit up night, after night, trying to solve issues about flags?

Perhaps, if I had made my journey in more favourable weather and had the option of taking the ferry from Greencastle to Magilligan, I might have been more hopeful for the future.

I may have dwelled on the plans of the cross-border body Waterways Ireland to link the principal rivers of Ireland from the Shannon to the Foyle and the opportunity to generate tourism revenue.

I could have focused on Ireland as a nation determined to learn from the past and build a new future where politicians wouldn't be hanging on to the coat-tails of flag-wavers and loyalist paramilitaries.

JOHN DALLAT (SDLP)

MLA for East Londonderry

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