Not much has been made about Robinson’s recent remarks about the Maze conflict centre, the usual dissent from Jim Allister aside. This is suprising when we consider that when the idea for a peace and reconcilliation centre for the Maze was first drawn up it was the DUP who opposed such a move on the grounds of the potential use of the centre as a shrine to the hungerstrikers. While it is not my intention to get into a row about 1981, it would seem suprising, at first glance, that the First Minister and leader of the DUP now backs the proposals and claims it will be a tourist mecca for Northern Ireland.
Not as suprising yesterday was the call by Martin McGuinness for the scrapping of the NIO and the lack of need for the Secretary of State now that devolution is in place. Unlike Robinson this is McGuinness playing to form, playing to the crowd and throwing up suggestions which appear to be nothing more than playing to the crowd. He has also made it known that he believes people in the mainland UK can become advocates for a United Ireland. Forgive me if I’m wrong but does this not appear as desperate as their seven point strategy?
While McGuinness has floated what amounts to no more than an appeal for help, Robinson appears to have seized the initiative from Sinn Fein and taken ownership of a project that will be representative of the Troubles as a whole rather than the narrow interpretation that some would have liked it to have. This will be of benefit to Northern Ireland as a whole and may disappoint those who may like their leaders to be a bit more realistic.
Of course, delivery will be key but it looks clear for the time being who is in the driving seat.