IN a platform article (January 2), Trevor Ringland attempts to create a gulf between the concepts “shared out” and “shared future”. His analysis is unhelpful in formulating a stable and just peace. The matters which he highlights, ie housing, identity, sectarianism, truth and justice and victims, have all different strands of perceptions, choices and opinion. They must be dealt with by sharing out resources in a fair and equitable manner. Education is one area where political leadership is limited, because of long-standing legal commitments given to churches.
A basic principle of the Belfast Agreement is that diversity should be recognised and accommodated, not demonised or marginalised. We should reach out the hand of friendship to our neighbour, but we do not need to move in with them. As a unionist I can show respect and recognition for Gaelic culture, but that does not mean having to attend GAA matches.
To reject the goals of a shared out future and instead try to enforce a society of conformity is not a peace process. It is ironic that Mr Ringland should refer to the Cold War in his analysis. This reminds us of societies in Eastern Europe where conformity and authoritarianism were imposed. Hardly a warm, constructive peace. I am not saying that Mr Ringland would encourage such a scenario, but respect for differences must come before conformity.