David Blackburn

Another very good Friday

Another very good Friday
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Yesterday, Gordon Brown was less Macavity, more the Cheshire cat. Now both he and Blair have helped to bring a modicum of peace to Northern Ireland, and Brown was a ubiquitous, beaming presence on the TV throughout the day - jaunty not jowly. Naturally, Brown’s confidence fell victim to the absurdity that lurks behind him like some familiar. Sky Sports News asked him if he thought John Terry should retain the England captaincy. Brown pondered the question - the arguments for and against and the possibility of his bringing peace to Cobham - before conceding that the decision was entirely Capello’s. It was priceless.

To suggest that this latest Hillsborough accord is a final panacea is to tempt fortune. The British government must have learnt that nothing can be taken for granted in Northern Ireland. As Jonathan Freedland notes in today’s Guardian, this deal has delayed not decided.

'One of the most contentious issues – the regulation of parades – has not been resolved so much as contained and delayed, by the creation of a working group to review the current arrangements.'

The Traditional Unionist Voice’s Jim Allister articulated the rejectionist sentiments felt by many Ulsterman: “In football terms I see this as a five to one victory for Sinn Fein”. For every Allister there is a Real IRA or Continuity IRA gunslinger who sees the exact opposite. With Sinn Fein and the DUP increasingly loathed by their respective communities bloodshed is never far removed from the present. Caution does not diminish the achievement: the parties of Adams and ‘Dr No!’ have secured the peace to which neither used to be committed: but the road ahead remains precarious.