Belfast Telegraph

Why Peter going to GAA final is a whole new ball game

By Gail Walker

You have to hand it to the First Minister.

The usual attitude here is that 'cross-community work' is something done at 'grassroots level', by worthy individuals, socialist workers and holy groups, while the upper class of politicians keep fostering division and resentment and hatred for their own selfish ends.

It's how we feel smug or excuse ourselves from doing nothing. But the appearance of Peter Robinson (right) with the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at the GAA McKenna Cup Final in Armagh, was just the latest in a line of jaw-dropping interventions on the part of these two.

No one can imagine that his attendance would have come easy to him, given the penchant of GAA clubs for naming cups after IRA men, old and new. No doubt too his move will have come as a big shock to parts of his natural constituency.

But in the week when another major Irish cultural institution, Comhaltas Ceolteoiri Eireann, agreed to sideline some dinosaurs of their own to stage the 2013 Feis in Londonderry to coincide with the City of Culture celebrations, the First Minister pitching up at Armagh Athletic Grounds was both a well-timed and a profoundly powerful coup.

It is events like these - I won't call them 'gestures' because they certainly have much more substance than that - which are the real tools for tackling the dissident threat to the peace we have. Yes, we need security. Yes, we need people to shop the gunmen to the cops. But more than anything we need consistent, genuine action from those who represent the majority views of our people.

We need our ministers to take the very real risks we might be too timid or too wary or too hurt to take ourselves. More power to you, Peter and Martin.

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