It’s all over, now quit the shouting…

John A Murphy (soberly) wishes Sinn Fein and the DUP well in their new enterprise together…

Widespread lamentations that such an agreement should have happened back in 1974, and deploring the subsequent waste of lives over the last 30 years, are now beside the point. What matters is that, despite all the horrors, a new beginning is possible – though with many hazards ahead.

In these columns on Easter Sunday, 1998, I shared the euphoric reaction to the Good Friday Agreement, shouting Hallelujah with all the rest. Nine tortuous years later, all those engaged in this fresh enterprise must be soberly wished well.

That naive but idealistic 19th-Century patriot, Thomas Davis, failed to square the circle of nationalism and reconciliation like all of us since then. But he meant well, and his fervent hope must be echoed at this momentous time:

Oh, let the orange lily be thy badge, my patriot brother,

The everlasting green for me, and we for one another.