In Washington, Bertie Ahern tells the Irish Times that, “Everything along the way, every single demand, every single issue that has been put on the table has been delivered. There is only one thing left: powersharing.” Someone ought to tell the British, surely?
“The IRA campaign has ended, the weapons have been decommissioned, inclusive support for policing has been agreed and the programme of normalisation of security in Northern Ireland will be completed shortly. A great deal of valuable time has been lost since the Good Friday agreement was signed in 1998 but the restoration later this month of an inclusive powersharing executive gives real hope and represents an opportunity of historic proportions. Prime Minister Blair and I will spare no effort to secure the restoration of the institutions of shared government.”
The first two elements have (by wide assent) crossed the finishing line. We still await confirmation of the third and fourth. Bertie appears to be relying on the atmospherics to get this through on the slide (which might suit some on either side):
“I think that all of the mood music in the course of the last week or so has been good and I think that there is increasing optimism and hope that powersharing and all-Ireland institutions will be in place by the 26th of March. And if that happens, then obviously everybody has crossed the Rubicon.”