Wishing all our readers a very Merry Christmas

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

It happened all the way through the Troubles and happened again this week and will continue today – many thousands of people with a Northern Ireland connection return to the Province for Christmas.

Airports have been bustling and flights full.

On Wednesday, for example, perhaps the busiest travel day of all, most easyJet flights from London to Belfast International airport were full even before the week had begun.

On some other flights with various airlines, single tickets were for sale at £300 or more. This was not profiteering by the airlines but rather a reflection of the annual stampede home, and the limited number of seats available.

In the fortnight on either side of Christmas, Stena Line is carrying 145,000 passengers across the Irish Sea.

Northern Ireland has a very strong pull on people who come from here or have connections with here. Whatever difficulties and traumas there have been, this pull has never gone away and never will. It is a big enough region of the UK to have a lot happening within its six counties, but small enough to be intimate and have a strong local identity.

This has been, as Theresa May’s first Christmas message as prime minister acknowledges, a year in which there has been much division in the UK. She spoke about the need for unity, and gratitude to our armed forces – a message that is pertinent as their fine record keeping the peace in Northern Ireland during the Troubles is retrospectively undermined.

Tensions in 2016 have not been not restricted to Britain – there has been upheaval in many countries, from America which experienced a bitter presidential election, to Syria, which has suffered ongoing violence and tragedy.

But so many good things are happening, such as the medical advances around the world, and economic improvements for scores of millions of people in Africa.

With such hopeful developments in mind, we wish our readers a merry Christmas. We will be back well before the new year, our print edition in the shops again on Tuesday.