At a time when the tourist industry is under pressure, partly as a result of the economic climate, it was encouraging to hear about the growth in the number of hire boats and private boats on our waterways, both in Northern Ireland and in the Irish Republic.
Much of the day was then taken up with interviews about my letter to the chair of the trustees at National Museums Northern Ireland. The letter was sent to the trustees about two weeks ago and it identified the promotion of a 'shared future' as a priority. That future must involve a recognition of diversity and respect for diversity. I believe very strongly that all public bodies must take account of such matters as good relations, equality and human rights and that it is my responsibility as minister to remind arms-length bodies of these things.
That was the context for my letter which asked the trustees to consider the representation of the Orange Order and othen fraternal organisations. In a meeting with some of the trustees last month I had highlighted the omission of any recongition of other fraternal organisations such as the Ancient Order of Hibernians.
I also referred to the omission of any mention of the Ulster-Scots, including the Hamilton and Montgomery settlement of 1606, when Sir James Hamilton and Sir Hugh Montgomery, the 'founding fathers' of the Ulster-Scots, arrived in Ulster from Ayrshire.
The third issue was the consideration of alternative views on the origin of the universe and the origin of life.
The leaking of the letter was disappointing and showed a lack of respect for the trustees and the museum. Moreover it was interesting that the leak came just a few days after a meeting between representatives of the Orange Order and a senior member of the museum staff. I intend to coment on each of these issues in more detail over the coming days.
This evening I attended the annual school play by the children of Malvern Primary School in the Lower Shankill area. The children performed really well and the play was Cinderella Rockerfella, which is a modern panto-style reworking of the classic story of Cinderella.