Archive for the ‘N.Ireland’ category

“Northern Ireland Rivals Reach Deal”

March 26, 2007

Except they didn’t.

A textbook example of the perils in reading only the headline, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and Ulster Democratic Unionist head, the Rev. Ian Paisley (the first is Catholic, the second Protestant, which, if you haven’t got time to read much more than headlines, is about all you need to know about the conflict in Northern Ireland) did not in fact reach a deal. That is unless you count an agreement to maybe agree (about power sharing and forever ending centuries of sectarian strife) in a few weeks time (with terms to be spelled out anytime but now) as some kind of conclusive “deal.”

There have been many such deals, going all the way back to the 1998 Good Friday Agreements and before. Announcements of deals in international diplomacy are often as not acts of political theatre or negotiating tactics themselves. It’s best to stay skeptical. Witness how many “deals” have been struck with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program, only to see our hopes dashed when Kim Jong Il demands yet more go-go girls to devour with his silver chopsticks as a condition of putting away his rather piddling atomic tackle.

That said, as someone whose commuting was often disturbed by IRA bomb scares and who has followed the Rev. Paisley’s unhinged demagogic rejectionism since the Good Friday Agreement was signed, I concede that this is no doubt progress. Halting, fragile progress, yes – but progress nonetheless.