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Arlene Foster must build on positive gestures

Political leaders tend to be criticised more than praised with intransigence, lack of vision and poor judgment often cited as key failings.

So when a politician seems prepared to take a fresh approach, to reach out to those with different views and backgrounds, then that should be acknowledged and welcomed.

Arlene Foster has undergone something of a re-imaging in recent days. Last week she went along to an Eid celebration and on Thursday she will attend an LGBT event.

On Sunday, the DUP leader made a much anticipated appearance at the Ulster GAA final in Clones, a visit that was not confirmed until the last minute, perhaps indicating the considerations going on behind the scenes among her advisers.

Mrs Foster admitted that some people may be uncomfortable that she went to a sporting event on a Sunday, a clear nod to fundamentalists in the DUP and the concerns she has about upsetting that particular wing of her party.

But she pointed out that she is the leader of a political party `that wants to have a shared society' and that meant building `respect and tolerance.'

Of course, that is exactly what she should have been doing over the past two years rather than further alienating nationalists who believed the DUP was showing little of either.

However, it is important to look forward and the warm welcome afforded to Mrs Foster by the GAA family shows there is a desire to move ahead and improve relationships.

And while some may dismiss her appearance on Sunday as `gesture politics', throughout the peace process we have come to understand the value of gestures, of taking a first step that leads to other steps.

The fact that Mrs Foster stood for the national anthem was appreciated and overall her attendance must be regarded as a success and a step in the right direction.

After the positive gestures, we need to see movement on restoring devolution and delivering for every person in our society.

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