Paisley urges caution over border poll

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IT is a good thing to lift up our eyes.

Being an obsessive book-man, a long time ago my optician advised me to practice this exercise regularly and it is advice I took on board.

In a different sense altogether the Psalmist too encourages us to “lift up our eyes.”

Spiritual farsightedness is also a good thing to practice. Lifting up our eyes elevates the soul. It refreshes our faith.

In everyday living too, lifting up our eyes is a necessary occupation if we are to see beyond our own limitations. We need to take account of what others are about.

Looking beyond our shores this week, we watched as President Obama took office for a second term; as hostages in Algeria headlined the news; as yet more Syrians died in their terrible ongoing conflict; and even more recently as Israel went to the polls. Israel has been known to call itself “the sole bastion of democracy” in the Middle East. How can we not take note of what happens there? As I write, the outcome of that election is not yet clear. A coalition must be attempted. This week too, Jordan has had elections; India continues to make headlines regarding reforming its rape laws; the ending of the Vietnam war 40 years ago is in focus, and another 23 people died in a suicide bomb in Iraq.

I could fill this page with what I see when I lift up my eyes and look beyond our shores.

But what do others see when they lift up their eyes and see us?

I am sure this week they must wonder why some want to unpick copper fasteners and ask for a border poll! Having won the principle of consent and secured our place within the United Kingdom, we ought to be very careful to hold the prize and not be glib about “calling the bluff” of others as though it were something of little value. Our secure position today as part of the United Kingdom didn’t come about by a false display of confidence in a hand of poker. The removal of the articles in the Irish Constitution laying claim to Northern Ireland as that jurisdiction’s territory, was, we should never forget, hard won. It was also a substantial act of goodwill by the people of Southern Ireland to vote to have the claim removed from their constitution in order to facilitate neighbourly relations. It played no small part in disarming the political justification of the Irish Republican Army’s reign of terror. Why, when we are seeing a period of deeply felt concern regarding our flag, and for which no solution has yet been found, would anyone think it sensible to throw a bucketful of time, energy and money at a border poll for which there is absolutely no need or even demand? Better to spend that time, energy and money on our real future, our youth, and solve the greatly vexed question of their education regarding transfer tests. Eyes down might be the better option on this one!

This is Dr Paisley’s weekly column. Due to a production error, it did not appear on Friday as normal. It will resume in its usual slot next Friday