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Meanwhile…back in the North – a kinder gentler First Minister, an even more courageous Paddy Ashdown and an almost generous Minister for Foreign Affairs. April 21, 2007

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Democratic Unionist Party, Northern Ireland, Republicans, Sinn Féin, Ulster, Unionism.
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Events are moving relatively swiftly in the North. Blair is considering attending the restoration of devolution at Stormont early next month.

Ian Paisley actually demonstrated his not inconsiderable chutzpah by inviting Blair a couple of days ago to go to Parliament Buildings to see the “new regime’. Now unless Paisley is preparing to perform a very public and very bizarre (even by his undeniably unusual standards) volte face in front of the worlds press on May 8th it really does look as if this bird, heavy, ungainly and nowhere near fit for purpose is limbering up to take a leap into the dark from a first floor window and might actually fly. Perhaps this is Blair’s finest moment, his vindication. Sad to see how it remains overshadowed by his greatest defeat.

As to the shape of that new powersharing administration The Irish Times relates how:

“Dr Paisley and Mr McGuinness have jointly sent a letter to President Bush expressing their sympathy over the loss of life in the Virginia Tech massacre. They also jointly sent a letter of congratulations to the Irish cricket team on their performance in the one-day cricket world cup. They also invited the team to attend an official reception at Stormont.”

Well, if they’re ordering in the finger food and tea (presumably this will be a dry occasion given the good Doctors principles on such matters) the deal must be all but signed sealed and delivered. All good, all straws in the wind. All remarkable for their essential normality and even – and I use the word very very advisedly in relation to the first letter – banality.

Meanwhile in the same report it’s noted that Adams expressed some concern over the introduction of Paddy Ashdown, former Liberal Democrat leader, to the North. Ashdown, it appears, served as a soldier in the North in the early years of the trouble. Now released from his most recent post as effective commissar of Bosnia perhaps he decided that he relished the challenge of a more difficult job, overseeing the review of parades in the North.

And as if that weren’t enough the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Demot Ahern has added a little under €1 million to promote cross border ‘outreach and reconciliation work’. In comparison to Brian Cowen’s €400 million this seems positively restrained, but the mantra in Dublin, and London too, is no doubt the same as it ever was.

Yes, everyone shall have prizes. None shall go home empty-handed. What a strange time we live in.

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