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It's up to us all to make Northern Ireland work

IT'S incredibly important that we protect shared housing initiatives like the development at Cantrell Close and ensure that everyone feels welcome in them. The police can only do so much and the broad pro-Union family has much to gain by stepping up and taking responsibility.

The constitutional future of Northern Ireland will be a battle of hearts and minds. When Edward Carson and James Craig founded the state, they advised that it should work for all of its people. They realised that violence and exclusion can only create further conflict and alienate people from a sense of Britishness.

A good first step would be to challenge properly all those who have threatened the young families in east Belfast because of their religion. Additionally, pro-Union people should stop reacting to Sinn Fein's agenda and start thinking more strategically. That means refusing to tolerate flags that are associated with paramilitaries, irrespective of dishonest arguments that they represent something else.

The republican movement seems to want to constantly remind everyone of its murderous, unnecessary campaign of violence. Do loyalists really think they promote our place in the UK by reminding people of their movement's brutality?

If so, they are doing Sinn Fein's work for it by alienating those who would otherwise be happy to call Northern Ireland home.

There are many examples of what can happen when we're prepared to genuinely challenge ourselves as to how we share this place. Look at the success of Northern Ireland football fans and 'Football For All'. Irish nationalism should also heed it and similar examples. All unionist politicians should come together against such threats and stand with the families.

In his poem Invictus, WE Henley suggests: "We are the masters of our fate/We are the captains of our soul."

In Northern Ireland we - and no one else - will determine the kind of place we live in.

Trevor Ringland

Holywood, Co Down

Belfast Telegraph

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