Although the Continental Market played its part in drawing Christmas crowds into the city centre, there’s now a new attraction in town that is leading families down to City Hall from Turf Lodge to the New Lodge – the Nollaig Shona Duit sign on the side of our civic building. Strange as it may seem, the decision by Belfast City Council to erect that sign on the outside of its main building, where thousands of shoppers can see it every day, symbolises the strides that are beginning to be made at Belfast City Council at present, where a new can-do attitude is starting to take shape. Once a byword for bigotry and backwoodsmen, the Council is now forward-looking and embracing all the people of this great city. The days when unionists misruled the city and its people are now gone forever, something that our forebears, who saw the worst of that misrule and misery, must have thought would never happen. There have been no loyalist demonstrations at the erecting of the Nollaig Shona Duit sign. Did the unionists who opposed it, who no longer hold the reins of power in the Dome, misread their electorate once again? Let’s hope this starts a more mature debate around the Irish language, coming as it does in the same week that the Culture Minister at Stormont, Carál Ní Chuilín, announced that her department has already topped the 1,000 target for recruiting new learners of the Irish language who wish to become fluent by 2015. As the sign says, Nollaig Shona Duit.