“Before anyone starts jumping for joy..”

In his dispatch from New York, covering our little pleaders the Northern Ireland First and deputy First Ministers’ tour of the US, BBC NI political editor Mark Devenport reminds us, ahead of “an announcement tomorrow from the New York State Comptroller of another multi million dollar fund earmarked for Northern Ireland”, that the much vaunted Emerald Fund has yet to actually invest any money here. Btw, apparently the NI First and deputy First Ministers’ honeymoon began at a reception at the Los Angeles residence of Bob Peirce, the British Consul-General. The finale will be the handing over of another, soon to be destroyed.. ermm.. lovely bowl..

From the Times report on the reception in LA.

After an hour or so of mingling came the speeches, which were designed to acknowledge the gravity of the situation in Northern Ireland and also to downplay it.

Mr McGuinness said that the violence “made the world news only because it was so unusual” and that it was the work of “tiny micro-groups that have no support whatsoever with the general public”.

The damage control did not go entirely smoothly. Mr Robinson made what some regarded as a clumsy comparison between the targeting of military and police personnel by hardline factions of the IRA with this week’s massacre in Alabama – the work of a lone suicidal gunman.

“It doesn’t take much for a deranged individual to fire a shot,” he said, adding that, “for those who want to live in a safe environment, you’re safer in Northern Ireland than you are in LA.” (Northern Ireland’s murder rate per capita is less than a third of that of Los Angeles.) A few minutes later, Mr McGuinness told the guests: “I still believe we’re now in charge of one of the most successful peace processes in the world today.”

He then became distracted by a celebrity in the crowd – the sitcom star Patricia Heaton. “I’ve been a big fan for many years of Everybody Loves Raymond,” the ex-IRA man gushed uncharacteristically.

Then, to laughter, he added: “I’m really baring my soul here tonight.”