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Editor's Viewpoint: Shining a torch on our sunny land

If anywhere knows about the potency of symbols then it is Northern Ireland. For years both sides of the community have used their cultural touchstones to antagonise each other.

But, ever so gradually, a realisation is dawning that we have no option but to share this place and that it will be better to do so in relative harmony. The Jubilee celebrations of the past few days have been just that, a celebration, with each part of the community paying due deference to the feelings of each other.

But there also has been a symbol which has unified the province during the past two days - the Olympic torch. Its journey around Northern Ireland has been hugely symbolic thanks to careful route planning. Starting out in Belfast and then travelling along the majestic Antrim coastline to the World Heritage site of the Giant's Causeway, it traversed some of the most spectacular scenery in the province.

Then it travelled through a site of infamy from our past, in Greysteel, scene of a horrific terrorist atrocity, before reaching Londonderry, next year's UK City of Culture but a city still with its divisions.

Sadly, there was a minor disruption to the route in Derry caused by dissident republicans, but they won simply more abhorrence of their pointless campaign rather than any publicity.

Instead the overwhelming portrait of Northern Ireland from this torch relay is one of a community healing division, rather than fostering it. The relay has also produced an enormous, and unexpected, air of enthusiasm among the general public. Everywhere it has gone there has been a huge turnout to welcome the runners.

While London - site of the Olympic Games - sat under slate grey skies, Northern Ireland was shown as a place of sunshine, with the rays illuminating wonderful scenery and genuinely interested crowds.

These were the sort of images that money cannot buy and should be marketing gold for our tourism authorities in their quest to attract more visitors.