An historical footnote to Pete’s larger point. Fionnuala O’Connor seems to be dropping a big heavy clanging hint in this piece on the opening of RTE’s new offices in Belfast regarding Tommie Gorman’s ‘invisible hand’ in the fate of modern Northern Irish history:
Neither the DUP nor Sinn Féin could bear sight nor sound of RTÉ personnel a few years back. Part of the revolution in attitudes is undoubtedly due to Gorman’s behind-the-scenes role in helping the DUP in particular across the line into power-sharing. The three main speakers said as much, body language more eloquent still.
Ever since Jonathan Powell’s book there has been much speculation about the existence of a back channel between the DUP and Sinn Fein, not least in a critical review from Mitchel Reiss. It has to have beeen a figure capable of sustaining such confidence, that as Frank Millar noted:
Martin McGuinness appeared so confident of his partys secret back channel to the DUP at one point that he thought to stand-down Mr Powell during a key negotiation in 2004.
Certainly at the time the so called Comprehensive Agreement failed, Gorman’s analysis was about the most acute on offer at the time. If he was the ‘back channel’, he would have had the ringside seat.
So Adams’ statement of January 2007 was right. Still no change on the story from the DUP…
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty