SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly has called on everyone in Northern Ireland to display community spirit in the coming year and for politicians to co-operate for the common good of all.
Mrs Kelly said: “People need to see that their politicians are working together. People need to see that politicians understand the need to work for the common good, that politicians put the community’s wellbeing before sectional interests. There are too many politicians paying lip service to this ideal and not enough trying to put it into practice.
“Our society is still fragile. What we have gained over the last number of years of relative peace can still be lost. That is a very frightening thing. But our hard-won gains will not be lost by accident. They will be lost by angry words and demonstrations. They will be lost by politicians who forget their care of duty to all the community; they will be lost by politicians who preach about unity but who, in fact, create division; our gains will be lost by politicians who set themselves above the people’s needs and not before them.
“We need to look at our children and remind ourselves that we do not want them to experience the horror of what so many of us witnessed. We want them to grow up safe. We want them to have a chance at a better life. We want all that is good for them – and we need to do that we working together, not simply saying we want to work together.”
“Where we live is a very small part of a very big world. We face many challenges as a society. We can meet those challenges only if we stand together, only if we rediscover that sense of good neighbourliness, only if we recognise a friend in the other person and not an enemy.
“I believe we all can make a positive contribution to this society through our own actions and I heartily recommend that everyone support community ventures in the coming year. If you can volunteer some time for a football team, a youth group, a community group or any good cause, then do so.”
Mrs Kelly added: “I call on all politicians, all church leaders, all community leaders and groups, to rededicate themselves to the wellbeing all who live in this region. I call on everyone who makes a public statement this year to pause and ask himself will that statement harm or threaten anyone, will my statement frighten anyone, will my statement add to tensions? If so, draw back and rethink what you want to say.
“We all have political aspirations. By all means, let us express those aspirations. But let us do so in a way that shows that we understand we work for all.”