Challenges that lie ahead must be tackled with confidence

Published: 20 Dec 2012 13:000 comments

On Tuesday, for possibly the only day of the year, the frenetic lifestyle that so typifies life in the 21st century will drop down the gears, take on a more leisurely pace and, hopefully be overtaken by the importance of family.

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Surrounded by our loved ones, it is undoubtedly a time to reflect. Here in Fermanagh and in our neighbouring counties it has been a year, quite possibly like no other.

How can we forget the enormity of the Queen's visit and that short walk across Church Street to St. Michael's Church from St. Macartin's Cathedral? This was more than mere symbolism, this was actually happening and it was happening in our home town. Enniskillen and Fermanagh in the eye of the world's media and setting new standards in terms of hope and progress.

The flag waving protests that have come to Enniskillen and Northern Ireland in recent weeks show that there is much work to be done and while we like to think we have a tolerant society in Fermanagh, we are far from immune.

Quite possibly the last time we invigorated such attention was the Enniskillen bomb in 1987. We honoured the dead and injured 25 years on with much dignity on November 8. That no-one has ever been brought to justice is a sore that this county, this town has to continue to live with.

This week's 40th anniversary of the Louis Leonard murder shows that both sides of the political divide are still dealing with much hurt which makes it very hard for our society as a whole to move on. Dealing with the past, remains one of the biggest challenges for the future.

There was also the news of the G8 Summit quite unbelievably coming to Fermanagh. Again the world was watching rural Fermanagh and for two days in June next year, Fermanagh, Enniskillen and Lough Erne Resort will go global but can we use it to our advantage? That will be the real challenge.

Then we have the situation where Sean Quinn will spend this Christmas in jail. Formerly, the richest man in Ireland, the Fermanagh man who transformed the Derrylin area, created much employment and put bread on the table for many is now a bankrupt and in Mountjoy Prison for failing to purge his contempt of court. Quinn's fall from grace, like so much in Ireland, polarises opinion but they protested in his favour in Fermanagh and Cavan and this story is far from over.

And while, we have 'enjoyed' a year of global headlines, the horrific detail of the Millie Martin murder trial quite simply shocked and saddened the entire community to the point where much of it was unbearable. Evil is never far away and the pages of this paper on a regular basis highlights that we live in a very imperfect world, but one that we cannot afford to turn a blind eye to either.

It has to be said, this paper also details much of the good work going on in all our communities and it is vitally important work at that.

Someone tweeted on Monday night during the flag protests in Belfast, that 'Hope Street was closed'. The irony instantly obvious, only in Northern Ireland added the tweeter.

It has been a tough year, there is no doubt. But we have hope and importantly we have a society that wants to keep on progressing and living together. There was enough of that on show in 2012 to mean there is no reason why the challenges that lie ahead cannot be tackled head on and with confidence.

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