March 26, 2007

THEY USED TO BE THE SUNNI AND THE SHI'A:

HISTORIC BREAKTHROUGH IN NORTHERN IRELAND: Paisley and Adams Reach Agreement on Power-Sharing: UPDATE Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams, the leaders of Northern Ireland's main Protestant and Catholic parties, have met for the first time to discuss devolution for the province. They have reached an agreement to form a power-sharing administration by May 8. (Der Spiegel, 3/26/07)

Ian Paisley meeting Gerry Adams? It was an event of lion-laying-down-with-lamb proportions, as Paisley, a Protestant minister with a taste for fiery Biblical rhetoric, might describe it -- even though each side would doubtlessly argue over who was the lion and who was the lamb.

The meeting was certainly a historic breakthrough for Northern Ireland. Arch-rivals Paisley and Adams have long been icons of the Protestant and Catholic sides respectively in the long and bitter struggle over who should rule Northern Ireland. Paisley is the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which wants to keep Northern Ireland's ties to Britain, while Adams is president of Sinn Fein, whose ultimate goal is a united Ireland.

The two men held their first ever face-to-face meeting Monday in the Northern Ireland Assembly buildings in Stormont, Belfast. However the two arch-rivals did not shake hands, according to officials from both sides.

Afterwards they announced a deal to forge a power-sharing administration by May 8, which will lead to a new era of home rule for the province.

"After a long and difficult time in our province, I believe that enormous opportunities lie ahead for our province," commented Paisley, 80, who had previously refused to negotiate directly with Adams or Sinn Fein. "We must not allow our justified loathing of the horrors and tragedies of the past to become a barrier to creating a better and more stable future for our children."


Which leaves Palestine the only unresolved naval chokepoint from the Cold War.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 26, 2007 7:18 PM
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