Belfast Telegraph

After dark week for cross-community relations, the apparent change of political tone offers us a ray of hope

Editor's Viewpoint

The past few days have marked a difficult, and for some a deeply hurtful, start to 2018.

Barry McElduff's appalling antics and the fallout from a stark cartoon have opened again all the raw wounds.

New Secretary of State Karen Bradley has arrived in Northern Ireland at a most difficult time, and we wish her well.

She will find out very quickly that - here - the past informs the present, and that many people can't see any signs of great hope for the future.

However, the tone of the exchanges on television on Thursday night between Sinn Fein's John O'Dowd and Edwin Poots of the DUP was as unexpected as it was welcome.

Mr O'Dowd expressed personal and republican shame over the Kingsmill atrocity, and Mr Poots acknowledged the deaths, the hurt and the loss in Mr O'Dowd's family on the night before the Kingsmill outrage.

They stressed the urgency of getting Stormont back up and running again, despite the massive effort required to do so.

Today, DUP leader Arlene Foster is giving a keynote speech in Killarney in Co Kerry.

She has made the long journey there to deliver a talk that she could just as easily have given in Belfast.

In the speech, she recalls her pleasant memories of cross-border relations during her childhood in Fermanagh, and she uses the example of two neighbours tied together in a semi-detached dwelling, where things are done differently on either side of the garden fence. She also underlines that we can do much to help each other, and that already there is valuable cooperation in health, tourism and other matters.

It is a notable speech that shows leadership, and her words remind us of the distress of the past 12 months, of the urgent need to put the past behind us, and to hope that good faith and actions on both sides of our "semi-detached" home will ultimately prevail - for the good of everyone.

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