Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Smiles all round as devolution returns
Well it's been a long time coming but devolved government has finally returned to the people of Ireland's north. No longer will decisions be made by Direct Rule ministers in London, now they will be made by locally elected representatives of the six counties.
Today's events please me greatly as I started this blog back in December of 2004 and back then the prospect of the North's executive returning seemed very remote indeed. Since that point in time, great strides forward have been made by both sides of the community and a promising future beckons for the people of this island.
Back then I never would have imagined that in less than three years the paramilitaries would be effectively removed from the political equation and that Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness would be made First Minister and Deputy First Minister respectively. That's what has happened though and I thought British PM Tony Blair made an interesting comment today in relation to that:
"There are people who still think that the compromises that were made along the way were unacceptable.
"But sometimes politics is about that in order to achieve a better end - and there are always two kinds of people in politics - those who stand aside and commentate and those who get their hands dirty and do."
The ends don't always justify the means but if everything pans out for the best in NI then maybe in this instance they do. History won't remember the voices of disapproval, the Jim Allisters and Bob McCartneys of this world. No, instead history will remember the 8th of May, 2007, as a day when people compromised, swallowed their pride and took the necessary steps to pave the way for a better future for all.
It may be an imperfect peace but it's a peace nonetheless and God willing, it will hold out over the long run.
As for the two Prime Ministers, they played their part in this process and deserve credit. I have little respect for Bertie Ahern and personally regard him as a snake, but sometimes you need a snake to keep the rats in check. I felt Ahern paid a nice tribute to his counterpart Tony Blair for making the peace process work:
"This was not a process that promised quick or easy rewards. But he (Tony Blair) has been a true friend of peace, and a true friend of Ireland.
"And for that we express our heartfelt thanks. I thank him, not so much for the tea, not so much for the castles that I had the pleasure of spending so many times in, but for the true determination that he had, for just sticking with it.
"For 10 tough years, he has spent more times dealing with the issues of the island of Ireland than any person every could have asked any other person to do."
These days I take what Ahern says with a pinch of salt but on this occasion he's spot on in what he said.
All in all I think the majority of people in Ireland can be content about today's events. Having said that we shouldn't slap their backs and kiss their arses too much as they still have to prove that they can work together. We've had a lot of false dawns in the past and while I'm more optimistic about the future now than I ever have been in the past, the onus is still on the North's politicians to make it work.
It's also worth pointing out that amidst all the platitudes and praise that will no doubt be heaped upon NI by many nations in the next few hours and days, NI remains an artificially constructed political entity which was the by-product of sectarianism and greed.
Today's event should be seen by the people of this island as a stepping stone to the reunification of Ireland and as a means to righting the wrong of 1921 and the disgraceful mutilation of our country. We have been scarred by Partition for many decades. Soon though we will be free from this blemish upon our nation.
© 2008 United Irelander.