IN OTHER WORDS: Peace, finally
The sight of Gerry Adams across the table from Ian Paisley would have been unthinkable in Northern Ireland a few years ago. Yet a delegation from Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Adams’s Sinn Fein, with their leaders at the head, were to meet on Tuesday, thanks to the efforts of the British and Irish governments and the people of Northern Ireland themselves, who have embraced the decade-long peace process, albeit grudgingly at times.
Now Sinn Fein needs to endorse the policing apparatus established in 2001 to make sure that Northern Ireland is never again riven by sectarian violence. Paisley, Adams, and the others will gather today to discuss the implementation of changes in the 1998 Good Friday agreement that would enable Paisley to become first minister of Northern Ireland, with Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness as his deputy.
The British and Irish governments presented these amendments to the Northern Ireland political parties last weekend. DUP and Sinn Fein acceptance are made easier by a British and Irish commitment of significant economic aid. Almost everyone in Northern Ireland knows that the old days of sectarian violence are over. The DUP and Sin Fein now need to form a government that will build on peace to create economic opportunities.