Editorial - Cultural maturity and tolerance

Yesterday was a day when millions of people around the world joined together to celebrate everything Irish.

Revellers donned shamrocks and painted their faces green and enthusiastically took part in the celebrations, with little thought of what Irishness means in 2014. Or, perhaps more importantly, how the notion of Irishness has changed over the years.

The St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Derry this year reflect those changes.

The colourful parade through the city centre, which attracted spectators from across the city, as well as much further afield, brought people together in celebration.

In the past, St Patrick’s Day celebrations were viewed with suspicion by some, who regarded the wash of green, expressions of national sentiment and flag waving as a veil for certain political aspirations.

The inclusivity and celebration of diversity which were at the heart of yesterday’s city centre events highlights the change in attitudes - from all communities and traditions - over the last decade.

Granted, it is not perfect and there is still a long way to go on some aspects of creating a truly shared society, but it is clear that things are moving in the right direction.

Of course, some will never be happy, either because of what they regard as a celebration of a culture they do not wish to identify with, or by what others may look at as a dilution of culture to appease others. Thankfully, in Derry at least, such groups are a minority.

Above all, the celebrations in Derry showed once again the levels of cultural maturity and tolerance which has been growing in the city for many years.

In this, as is the case with so many things, we have a lot to teach others about these virtues.