Province has gained from immigration

Those responsible for the petrol bomb attack yesterday on a house in Cookstown occupied by Lithuanians have no place in our society.

That the four people inside, including a heavily pregnant woman, escaped unharmed is purely down to good fortune.

There will always be a tiny minority blinded by their racism and others who feel a little uneasy at the arrival of so many foreigners in a comparatively short period of time.

Most of us, however, realise that Northern Ireland has benefited greatly from the influx of immigrant workers, many of whom have brought useful skills or are prepared to undertake tasks that local people shun.

This latest incident coincides with an event in Birmingham marking the 40th anniversary of Enoch Powell's famous "rivers of blood" speech when he warned that uncontrolled immigration would lead to resentment and community tensions.

Mr Powell, who later became a unionist MP, has long been castigated for his comments yet his prophecy has proved remarkably accurate in Great Britain.

This year the most radical overhaul of our immigration system in 45 years is being introduced, including an Australia-style points system, compulsory ID cards for foreign nationals, a single border force and a much better system to monitor new arrivals.

We should always be open to welcoming strangers to our shores – after all, generations of Ulster people have sought a new life elsewhere – but only when it benefits everyone is immigration truly successful.

Brave admission

Former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott is not your typical bulimia sufferer.

Indeed, cynics have suggested he wasn't the most successful at it, given that he is still overweight despite battling the eating disorder for the best part of two decades.

Mocking our politicians is virtually a national pastime, of course, and Mr Prescott has been the butt of more jokes than most – whether it be his fondness for Jaguar cars, his less than discrete extra-martial affair or his bulging waistline.

Thick-skinned as most MPs are, they are still human and the stresses of his post evidently took their toll.

It has taken courage for him to admit to an illness normally associated with young women.

No doubt his admission will do sales of his autobiography no harm either.