Whilst the very early stages of The Process may still be contested, by some, the later stages seem to be attracting a degree of consensus around what should, by now, be a familiar analysis – although Hillary might disagree.. In the Irish Times [Lord] Paul Bew reviews [subs req] Ed Moloney’s biography of Ian Paisley Snr.
The author also throws new light on the relationship between the DUP and the Irish government, correctly laying particular emphasis on a meeting at the Reform Club in the last days of 2003, just after the DUP’s defeat of David Trimble in the November election. What remarkable symbolism – did the DUP delegation, Peter Robinson and Nigel Dodds, notice the great portrait of Daniel O’Connell that adorns the Reform Club walls? With Dan smiling down on them, the work to create the new power-sharing executive began there and then.
Like another recent writer, Mary Alice Clancy [added link], Ed Moloney lays considerable emphasis on the role of Mitchell Reiss, President Bush’s envoy, in pushing the process along. Reiss, like Michael McDowell, tended to be rather more unambiguous on matters of criminality than the British government. Moloney argues that the Blair-Jonathan Powell indulgence of Sinn Féin helped to destroy both the Ulster Unionists and the SDLP and raise up Paisley and Adams. It is only fair to add at this juncture that Powell, Blair’s chief of staff in Downing Street, will be publishing his version in his own important book out next month.