First Minister Peter Robinson has asked everyone in Northern Ireland to remember families who lost relatives during the Troubles.
In his Christmas message, he also referred to dissident republican attacks in the last year — which included the murder of PSNI constable Ronan Kerr — but insisted: “They will not win.”
The DUP leader further urged people to “visit their older neighbours, many of whom will feel isolated and alone during the Christmas and New Year break”. He said: “I want to wish everyone in Northern Ireland very happy Christmas.
“This is a very special time of the year. At Christmas time we step back from the hustle and bustle of every day life to spend time with our loved ones.
“We reminisce about Christmases that have gone before and we look forward to the potential of the new year. For the 10th consecutive Christmas, brave men and women of the armed forces are away from their families and friends because they are serving on the frontline in Afghanistan. Whilst we all gather for Christmas, let us spare a thought for these heroes and their families.
“Christmas is one of the central events in the Christian calendar. We remember the birth of God’s son, who was the Prince of Peace. This year we saw for ourselves that evil criminals want to shatter peace. They will not win.
“Peace and stability are precious commodities and are also important when trying to persuade investors to come here to increase our prosperity.
“As First Minister, I am determined to do all that I can to build upon the peace and stability.
“I ask everyone in Northern Ireland to remember all those families who have lost loved ones during the Troubles who will feel their absence keenly at this time.”