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Editor's Viewpoint

This bitterness must not blight our future

Editor's Viewpoint


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Mrs Foster was also right to condemn the "sectarian and offensive" messages placed on top of some bonfires

Mrs Foster was also right to condemn the "sectarian and offensive" messages placed on top of some bonfires

Mrs Foster was also right to condemn the "sectarian and offensive" messages placed on top of some bonfires

First Minister Arlene Foster surely spoke for all right-minded people yesterday when she declared: "You shouldn't just fall below the standard required of the community just because others do it."

She was talking about the failure of many people attending Eleventh Night bonfires to social distance. Clearly the background to her comments was the failure of some mourners to do likewise at Bobby Storey's funeral.

Frankly, given the zero-sum game that characterises our still-divided community, it would have been remarkable if the social distancing guidelines had remained unbreached at Saturday night's bonfires.

However, recognising the intractable nature of our society here is one thing; using it as an excuse for inaction is something else.

The First Minister is correct when she commended the Orange Order, not only for displaying leadership in discouraging mass gatherings, but also for the supportive role the Orange family has played during the Covid-19 crisis.

Mrs Foster was also right to condemn the "sectarian and offensive" messages placed on top of some bonfires, one of which targeted the late Mr Storey.

The First Minister told the BBC's Sunday Politics programme that those involved should question "what sort of Northern Ireland do they want to live in?"

However, we can take some small solace from the fact that the Fire Service recorded fewer Eleventh Night callouts than in recent years, due in part to the smaller number of bonfires.

Clearly, the continued fallout from republican handling of the Storey funeral continues to irradiate political relationships, and this is borne out by daily headlines in all our local media.

In reality, it is plain to see that mistakes have been made on both sides.

But in light of the prevailing bitterness in so many quarters we should all ask ourselves the basic question: what sort of Northern Ireland do we want to live in?

That question was asked a long time ago by the unionist leader Captain Terence O'Neill.

And the answer was given in more than 40 years of mayhem. History will judge us harshly if we continue to get the answer wrong.

Belfast Telegraph