OK, I know I said I was off for a bit, but if you'd said 10 years ago that an ex IRA commander would be calling for the Maze Prison not to be torn down but to be pickled, you'd have been put in a nice room with soft walls.
Just a thought. Bye.
Pause for thought
Next month this blog will have been running for 2 years, but it doesn't seem like it. I started it the day the Provisional IRA said it would disarm totally and for good, and in those two years we've seen the payoff: Paisley sharing power with Sinn Féin! If I'd predicted that two years ago you'd have rightly called me bonkers, but two years are a long time in politics.Regulars know I don't beat any party's drum because none of them offers the kind of British-friendly-but-distinctly-Irish-ness I espouse. I'm no raving Unionist, but I think Great Britain's a fine country and value the British aspect of our heritage. I'm no raving Nationalist, but I'm a big fan of Éire and would feel optimistic enough if NI were to join it in a suitable new all-Ireland state, at the right time and with the right levels of support.I hope my moderate approach has offered an alternative to some of the bitter blogs because I believe passionately that, in whatever direction the political status of NI is to develop, it has to be inclusive enough to command the support - active or passive - of what I call the "middle 80%", and that's not achievable in an atmosphere of diatribe and alienation.The devolution milestone means we've entered a new phase, and I'm going to use the summer break to lie down with pina coladas and think through what I can usefully do with this blog. And a few other things as well of course.So have a good summer, and I'll be back on 3rd September. Go well.