Co-operation is key to our future
The visit of the Taoiseach Enda Kenny to Northern Ireland yesterday shows how relationships across the border have improved in recent years. He was given a stark reminder of the hideous days of the Troubles when he met the families of 10 Protestant workmen who were shot dead by republicans in a vile sectarian attack.
The families have been pressing for the Gardai to hand over its intelligence on the killings to fresh inquests into the murders. The bereaved believe that the Gardai have information which could help identify the killers.
Mr Kenny promised that all information possible would be made available to the coroner, a move which the families described as encouraging and which is in sharp contrast to the often frosty relationships between police on both sides of the border during the worst of the Troubles.
But the thrust of the Taoiseach’s visit was not to hark back to the past but to signpost how new, mutually beneficial relationships can be developed between the two parts of this island.
In his major address to the CBI he spelled out how the Republic had clawed its way back to solvency after its economic meltdown and is now one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union. As Northern Ireland undergoes its own period of austerity, it was a timely reminder that short term pain can bring long term dividends provided that there is a cohesive economic plan in place.
Mr Kenny was also at pains to point out that Northern Ireland still enjoys the goodwill of the Republic, the UK, the EU and the US and that all of them are supportive of attempts to build a new prosperous province.
As our nearest neighbour and market, the renewed economic buoyancy in the Republic is good news for Northern Ireland, making it a more viable trading partner.
But Mr Kenny pointed out that co-operation between north and south goes even deeper with business advocates, IBEC and the CBI drawing up a joint strategy for economic development across the island.
Northern Ireland, given its recent past, has been inclined to be somewhat introspective and Mr Kenny quite rightly said it must be more outward looking if it is to grow its economy.
We have come a long way since the nightmare of Kingsmill but we have still a long way to go.