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Malachi O'Doherty

Virtuous or vicious, we're still going round in circles

Malachi O'Doherty


Anti-sectarianism a problem for all parties, not just DUP and SF

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'But an election is coming next year and parties will be calculating whether it is in their best interests to save the economy, or damage the other side.' (stock photo)

'But an election is coming next year and parties will be calculating whether it is in their best interests to save the economy, or damage the other side.' (stock photo)

'But an election is coming next year and parties will be calculating whether it is in their best interests to save the economy, or damage the other side.' (stock photo)

There is a little more sectarianism in the air. Throughout the period since the Agreement, we have seen that politics here shifts between vicious circles and virtuous circles. For a time, political parties will recognise that their advantage lies in co-operation, magnanimity, the easing of tension. We have seen many examples of that, most starkly the relationship between Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley and the Paisley family's tributes to McGuinness after his death.

I'm thinking also of Peter Robinson's visit to the home of Michaela McAreavey, the daughter of the Tyrone manager Mickey Harte, after she had been murdered in Mauritius. Or the words he used after the murder of Catholic police officer Ronan Kerr in Omagh, about his faith in his Catholic neighbours.

One of the first things attacked when tensions rise is the presumption that people in an opposing camp are no less human than ourselves. That edge is never far away, but at times it is sharper and nastier than the routine default level of acrimony and sarcasm.


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