Ten years on
It's 10 years since the Belfast Agreement was signed. Remember those stiff speeches as each leader tried to apply his own spin? That day, apparently, the union was never safer, while the Brits were a step further towards going. Funny thing, compromise, but welcome all the same.
Reflecting on those days, Seamus Mallon offers an interesting perspective on the future too, in a piece by the BBC's Martina Purdy, daring to utter some thoughts I touched on a few posts ago. Martina writes, he suggested there may be federal or confederal arrangements in future. (Mallon verbatim: "I believe Britain will go, they will leave. I don't think that will result in a 32 county political arrangement."
Indeed, looking back twenty years from now, it may well be black-and-white politics which are confounded. Under 20th century Ulster logic, a British Northern Ireland or usurption into a 32-county republic were the only options. Still are for most people. And in a world of antithesis, such as prevailed until - arguably - the 1998 Belfast Agreement, such black-and-white views were logical and defensible. But all of Ireland has changed since then, and so have the UK and Europe too.
A third way? Gotta be. An independent Norn Iron or joint protectorate would be unworkable, but maybe a semi-detached Northern Ireland leading to a federal borderless Ireland would be a model worth exploring, but only only political hemp-smokers would suggest we're ready for that now.
Happy Easter to all.