As welcome as the flowers in May
Great BBC headline today: Queen visit 'may depend on IRA'. Ian Paisley has mooted that she mightn't visit the Republic of Ireland until the IRA 'Army Council' disbands.
Let's be clear: there is no morally defensible reason for the IRA or its 'Army Council' to exist in 2008. It is an illegal organisation in both the UK and the Republic of Ireland and, along with all loyalist and republican terrorists, should hang its head in shame for what it's inflicted on the people of Ireland.
Just as no government should ever bow to terrorists, neither should the Northern Irish head of state make her widely expected first state visit to the Republic of Ireland dependent on what the minds of gangsters deem appropriate. This is democracy; let the people express their views through their legitimately elected representatives, and let the governments - and the ladies themselves - decide how and when.
There is, between the UK and Ireland, the greatest potential for friendship in Europe - one which should be sealed soon at the highest level. For a British head of state to be received by her equal in peace, in style, in friendship and in the great city of Dublin will be a joy to behold.
The days of the IRA are over; the future belongs to the open-minded.