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We must respect both identities on island

Let us not forget, in this special centenary year of 2016 as we reflect on the 1916 Rising, the Ulster Volunteers' role in the Battle of the Somme and the Irish Volunteers' part in the First World War, that we have a unique opportunity in British/Irish history to consolidate peace and bring hope to future generations.

We live in a contested space, with both British and Irish identities plus associated heartfelt beliefs and experiences.

Whatever about the Assembly election, we have to be thankful to our politicians who helped create the Good Friday and subsequent agreements. We should embrace this unique opportunity in our history where conflict is largely resolved and the principle of consent is agreed.

Politicians are often criticised, but the reality is they reflect our views.

In this new era of peace, nationalist politicians, by virtue of reasoned argument, have the opportunity to persuade unionists that they would be better off living in a united Ireland and that their British identity would be protected.

Similarly, unionist politicians may seek to demonstrate to nationalists that their best interests lie in retaining the Union with Britain and that their Irish identity would be cherished within this context.

If we prize peace and recognise this unique "watershed" in British/Irish history, then we cannot leave the consolidation of peace only to politicians.

At every opportunity and in all civic systems and institutions we are involved in, we must show respect for both identities on this island.


Omagh, Co Tyrone

Belfast Telegraph


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