Mary Riddel in The Observer with a canny reading of the underlying changes that make an unlikely deal possible.
In Paisley, there has been an personal motivation towards closure:
“Even 10 years ago, his mortality weighed on him. He could not stand down, he told me then, because: ‘My supporters would think it was all up and the game was lost. I would like to think that, when I do retire, we shall be on smooth water and have accomplished what we set out to do. There are things I’d like to do before I die – travel the world, write a few books.'”
For Republicans she estimates it’s the gradual change in their constituency that is the motivation for settlement:
“For Adams and McGuinness, the goal remains a united Ireland. That end will not be delivered, as they once hoped, by fast-track demographics. Birth rates have fallen to their lowest level since 1841, denting Sinn Fein’s hopes of a quick Roman Catholic majority. The drop in population and the end of terrorism are connected.
“Young republicans, better educated and more ambitious, are marrying later and having fewer children. Instead of blowing up their neighbours, aspiring social improvers are reading law at Queen’s University in cosmopolitan Belfast. Life is better, too, in the rural republican heartlands, where people can visit their local pub without worrying about whether they will get home alive. Yesterday’s keen young IRA volunteers are now trimming their garden hedges or playing golf”.
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