We Say
A pat on the back

We report this week that the 15 churches of West Belfast have raised £250,000 in the wake of the devastating Asian tsunami.
We’re delighted and we’re proud – but not for one second are we going to say that we’re surprised.
At a difficult time for the Catholic Church and a very difficult time for individual priests, this achievement is a vivid illustration of what the church is really about and of the high calibre of clergy serving us today.
This community is packed to the gills with big-hearted, able and energetic people who are as willing to help others as they are to look out for their own interests.
Too often we look at the glass and see it half empty. And while that’s an all-too-typical human failing, news like the overwhelming response to the tsunami appeal is a timely reminder that we have much more going for us than we have going against us.
We have an able and burgeoning community, artistic, spiritual and social infrastructure that is the envy of the country. But let’s never forget that we have that not because we had it handed to us, but because we battled away in the face of statutory hostility and indifference.
Yes, our large young population and shifting social mores on the island present us with difficulties in terms of providing enough youth facilities, and inevitably there is a significant number of young people who go off the rails when wandering the streets at night is the only social outlet available to them.
But while we highlight the problems thrown up – and this paper does that on a weekly basis – we should never lose sight of the fact that the vast majority of our young people are a credit to their families and their community. And we should keep reminding ourselves that West Belfast has the lowest crime rate in the city.
As we continue the battle to make our community an even better place to live, as we continue to press for the investment that was denied us for so long, we should find the time to stop every now and again and give ourselves a little pat on the back.

More of nothing
It’s perhaps time we stopped calling it the Northern Bank heist and started calling it the Northern Bank mystery.
At a frankly ridiculous press conference yesterday, we were presented with... well, it’s difficult to understand exactly what it was we were presented with.
Pictures of one of the bank employees inside the building carrying a green and black Umbro grip bag told us absolutely nothing, but the PSNI went on to claim that the bag was “distinctive”. It may well be distinctive in Equatorial Guinea, but to get a sense of just how many such bags there are in this city, perhaps some detectives should take a drive along the Glen Road when the schools are getting out. Is that really the best they have?
No, wait, that wasn’t all. We were also shown some pictures with red lines showing us the route the young employee took when he handed over the grip containing over a million pounds. Anyone watching the BBC’s Spotlight the previous night will have received precisely the same information, but in an altogether more vivid way.
And finally, with a roll of drums, the PSNI told us that they were working on one thousand leads. It was a statement whose meaninglessness was in keeping with the tenor of the investigation so far. A pair of shoes taken from a house in Lenadoon is a lead, of course. Or is it two?
A better lead would be the white van.
Or some of the money.
Or CCTV footage that actually reveals something.

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