Opinion

Editorial: Derry sectarian schoolgirl attack shows mindsets still need decommissioned, 25 years after Good Friday Agreement

Joe Biden's visit to Northern Ireland next week to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement will be shorter than many had expected, with the President due to arrive on Tuesday night and leave the following day.

President Biden has correctly hailed the many positive changes that have taken place since 1998, but there must also be an honest assessment of the limited progress made in some vital areas, such as addressing the legacy of the Troubles and tackling the sectarianism that all too often continues to bind us to the past.

This has been graphically and shamefully demonstrated in the appalling sectarian attack on a 12-year-old Protestant girl in Derry city centre this week. In a degrading assault, which was filmed, she was set upon by a group of mostly girls who kicked her head and upper body, and pulled her hair.

Her assailants called her an "orange b*****" and made clear she was targeted for "being a Prod". Police are treating it as a sectarian hate crime.

It is shocking that both the victim and her attackers were so young, and it is difficult to disagree with UUP councillor Darren Guy's assessment that our society has "failed miserably in dealing with sectarianism".

Senator George Mitchell, who chaired the Good Friday Agreement talks, spoke of the need to "decommission mindsets". It is clear that work is far from complete.