Spain's gain

HOLIDAYMAKERS venturing to Spain will breathe a sigh of relief that Eta, the Basque separatist group, has declared a permanent and internationally verifiable ceasefire. While, of course, there have been previous false dawns – a truce declared in 2006 lasted nine months – there does appear to be an acceptance that political dialogue is the only way forward.

This has certainly proved to be the case in Northern Ireland, which continues to be transformed by the successful outcome to the peace process. Such talks can, of course, be exasperating and frustrating in equal measure, as both Eta and the Spanish government will discover, but the building of mutual trust is essential if violence is to be consigned to history, and terrorist arsenals successfully decommissioned.

For, even though Northern Ireland has been repeatedly in the headlines, it was because of the province's water crisis rather than a new terrorist outrage, proof that life can really change for the better if long-held differences can be put to one side for the sake of the future and the wider international interest.