New editor promotes unity in his vision for the Sunday Life

The new editor at Sunday Life in Belfast Jim Flanagan has written to
readers setting out the future direction of the paper under his
leadership.

Flanagan is the first editor to have been appointed
in Northern Ireland since the IRA’s historic decision to decommission
its arms last month.

He said he wants to continue to promote a
“cross-community ethos” and how reconciliation of the nationalist and
unionists remain the fundamental political challenge in the region.

He said:

“We
will campaign for truly representative, power-sharing based on tried
and tested democratic principles and tolerance of political diversity.

“And
we will retain our independence of any political affiliation, be
non-sectarian, supportive of the rule of law and vehemently opposed to
all sexual, religious or racial discrimination.”

He also stressed the importance of opposing all sexual, religious or racial discrimination.

He
pointed to another crossroads for Northern Ireland in the IRA’s need to
prove its abandonment to the satisfaction of unionists. He said: “The
ultimate objective must be to restore a devolved government in which
the people of Northern Ireland, through their elected representatives,
take responsibility for their own future.

“The impending workload
is formidable. The radical re-organisation of local government, new
rating systems – both water and domestic – compliance with European
environmental legislation, overhaul of our economic infrastructure,
re-organisation of the education system and dealing with the worst
hospital waiting lists in the UK are just some of the issues to be
addressed.

“These plans, which will have a direct impact on the
daily lifestyles of everyone in Northern Ireland, throw up challenges
for all our politicians.

“For unionists, it is the realisation
that their veto over political change will be difficult to sustain if
the republican movement finally delivers on its commitments.

“For
republicans, it is the knowledge they will not be joined in government
by unionists while continuing to withhold support for the Police
Service or proving beyond any shadow of a doubt that the IRA has given
up the gun for good – a requirement applying equally to loyalist
paramilitary organisations.

“More generally, it is crucial the
Government makes a real impact in communities that feel marginalised by
the peace process and who have yet to derive any benefit from a peace
dividend.

Many working-class communities on both sides of the divide are crying out for their voices to be heard.”

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