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Let's emerge from shadow of Covid-19, says Arlene Foster

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Message: Arlene Foster says we must deal with the legacy of Covid together

Message: Arlene Foster says we must deal with the legacy of Covid together

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Message: Arlene Foster says we must deal with the legacy of Covid together

Northern Ireland's political leaders have heralded 2021 as a year of renewed hope with the First Minister welcoming the new year as one in which life here "will emerge from under the shadow of Covid-19".

In her personal New Year's message, Mrs Foster said that while Covid's threat to life "slowly abates", we now must come together to tackle its harm on health, education and jobs.

"We needed to and we did face Covid together so must we deal with its legacy together," said the DUP leader.

Mrs Foster also hailed the next 12 months, which mark Northern Ireland's centenary year, as an opportunity to "build our vision for the next generations".

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Sinn Fein deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said this year will "bring huge opportunities, as well as challenges, for the people of Ireland", adding that Brexit has "opened up a conversation on the future and exposed the undemocratic nature of partition".

"We now have a choice between a narrow, inward-looking vision of Brexit Britain or the open inclusive vision of a new Ireland in Europe," she said.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood also said he expects a "fundamental shift in relationships across these islands as a result of Brexit" this year.

"My firm view now is that the United Kingdom is coming to an end. I say that in the full understanding that many in my community will see the break-up of the Union as a tragedy and I fully respect that position," he said.

"Just because I believe the Union is ending doesn't mean I say it in a tone of thoughtless triumphalism."

He added: "We need to conduct the coming conversation with patience, care and compassion."

UUP leader Steve Aiken stressed he wanted to bring Northern Ireland into its second century as a "vibrant, innovative, inclusive place - part of a modern and outward looking UK".

"I want Northern Ireland back to being a powerhouse in innovation, just as we were at the turn of the last century," he said.

Also wishing the UK a 'Happy New Year', Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that "as the sun rises" on 2021 "we have the certainty" of Covid vaccines. He also highlighted that the UK is now "free to do things differently, and if necessary better, than our friends in the EU".

Belfast Telegraph


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