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Time to shake hands and behave like real politicians

What silly posturing our politicians indulge in. Yesterday it was revealed that First Minister Peter Robinson has shaken hands with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness for the first time.

The handshake came after Martin commiserated with Peter over his current personal problems.

Obviously the two men had never shaken hands — the most common and accepted form of greeting in the world — before.

Why had Peter refused before? Did he hate Martin because he was a leader of the murderous IRA? Was he afraid to shake his hand in case hardliners in his own party went apoplectic?

Yet these were men who had to stand shoulder to shoulder when two soldiers and a policeman were murdered and when a man was kicked to death by loyalists in Coleraine. They are in effect the joint Prime Ministers of Northern Ireland and they cannot even shake hands. It took a personal trauma to break down that particular barrier. Presumably Peter felt no shame in shaking hands with the Taoiseach and other ministers from the hated Irish Republic.

Peter is not alone in this stand-offishness. Colleagues Sammy Wilson and Arlene Foster recently went to the funeral of Cardinal Daly in Armagh but after passing on their condolences on behalf of the Executive left without staying for the requiems.

Did they think they would turn into pillars of salt — or even worse, Catholics — if they dared to listen to a Roman Mass?

Ministers in the Executive of whatever political hue or religion are elected to serve everyone in Northern Ireland. It is time they grew up and started doing it like real politicians.

Belfast Telegraph