Trevor Ringland: Respect for both communities can spring from common humanity

IN DEALING with the consequences of our conflict, one of the greatest challenges we face in Northern Ireland is how do we deal with the past so we do not repeat it.

There were 3,600 people who lost their lives and many of those responsible have not been brought to justice.

A great risk is that if left to be dealt with in a piecemeal way then it could undo much of what has been achieved by simply reopening old wounds. It is perhaps the burden for my generation to find a way to free up the future for our children.

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As we reflect on the terrible wrong of Bloody Sunday, what happened then seems incredible now. The greatest tribute we can pay to those who suffered is to create an inclusive Irishness and Britishness that respects both traditions on our island.

One way is through a common humanity. For example, I think that if the families of the Bloody Sunday victims were to meet with the families of the 16 Paras who were killed by the IRA at Warrenpoint, they would probably gain a better understanding of the hurt.

We have to move on, so, while not forgetting the hurt, let us grasp the future and shape it in a way that brings out the best in a genuinely good people, who share a beautiful part of the world.

• Trevor Ringland is a Belfast-based solicitor and former Irish international rugby player, the son of an RUC police officer and chairman of the One Small Step Campaign, which promotes a shared future in Northern Ireland.