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Saddened by return to hatred and bitterness

I recently returned to Belfast to visit friends and relations after moving to England 20 years ago.

While in England, I have proudly followed the assumed progress of the Good Friday Agreement and my heart and mind was content that, at long last, Northern Ireland was returning to normality.

How saddened and shocked I was to still see hatred and bitterness in the eyes of not only the children and adults but, more concerning, the political leaders.

How saddened I was to see the murals that blighted this beautiful city still in situ, with men in balaclavas and guns peering down on our children, commanding them to pay respect to the murderers and thugs of days gone by.

Finally, how absolutely horrified I was to find that, after so many years of so-called "peace and harmony", 90%-plus of all schools are still segregated, meaning our children are still growing up in a culture where 'Prods', or 'Taigs', are aliens not to be trusted.

The recent flags issue is concerning, but the blame lies with the community leaders and the electorate for standing by since 1998 and not demanding more fundamental change.

Perhaps more emphasis should have been placed on cultural change, as opposed to ensuring ex-thugs and paramilitaries got to dine at the top table.



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