Christmas is a time when we can all pause and reflect. Many of us have an opportunity to step back from the everyday routine of life and spend time with family and friends.
We remember those on Christmas Day and throughout this holiday period who will be on duty whether through keeping us safe and delivering vital public services or other sacrifices and acts of kindness in which they engage. They sacrifice time with their family so others can receive the care and support they need.
Amongst the celebrations, the excitement and the presents, Christmas is rooted in an unchanging message for changing times. The birth of Christ, leaving the splendours of Heaven and taking on the human yet sinless form, in those humble surroundings of Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago is as relevant a message of hope and delivery for today’s troubled world as it was at the time of His birth.
Christmas however can be a difficult time for many. Loneliness and loss can often be felt most deeply at this time of year, even by those surrounded by family and friends.
Over the course of the last year much work has been completed on a number of issues. We have seen local councillors elected for another council term, while the issues impacting Northern Ireland have been championed in Parliament. We continue to work to secure new arrangements that restore Northern Ireland’s place in the Union and the United Kingdom internal market. We want to see the restoration of the delicate political balances in Northern Ireland and the Assembly and Executive again taking decisions for the good of Northern Ireland.
Over the course of recent months significant progress has been made in our negotiations with the Government. We will continue to work on these issues until we secure what must be achieved. Had it not been for our actions, progress would not have been made and there would have been no prospect of securing and remedying the harm done to Northern Ireland by the Protocol.
The first Christmas was a declaration of the good news for everyone. It was the gift of hope and salvation to the world. As we look at the presents under the tree and children’s excitement grows for the visit of Santa, we can remember that the greatest gift we have been given was the hope of that first Christmas Day.