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Worth praying for a modern miracle

(James Kelly, Irish News)

It's official: neverneverland must take a back seat until the autumn leaves fall. Did you ever get the feeling that thanks to the procrastination of the terrible trio – Trimble, Paisley and Adams – we are not wanted?

I mean in the global village where do we stand? Right now the movers and shakers have other things on their mind besides rowdy old Ulster, marching backward 300 years to the toot of the Orange flute.

A worried President George Bush has landed at Shannon with the full panoply of the United States behind him, planes, press and the protection against assassination by 600 troops and gardai for the dumbed-down three-hour summit at the plush Domoland Castle Hotel.

His host, as president of the European Union, Bertie Ahern – like Tony Blair – has been globetrotting and must be recovering from jet lag after his flights to Moscow and Japan.

How do they cope?

Bush after a half-hour press conference flies off on a dangerous nerve-racking hop to Turkey.

He takes six questions from selected journalists. I wonder will anyone bother to mention our unfinished business?

Bush, impatient with the never-ending dilly dally in Norn Iron, has his own future re-election to worry him.

The latest opinion polls show him losing out to Democratic candidate Kerry as the anti-war lobby gains ground.

Will he even mention the prolonged hold-up in the peace process?

We are assured that secret talks have been going on with the political parties culminating in a one-day discussion on a framework for future action. This was staged at the classy Lancaster House, London, once the home of the Grand Old Duke of York whose marching uphill and downhill suggests this was an appropriate setting for the double talk we have been fed about 'mechanisms' and 'alternatives' if and when the assembly and its almost forgotten elected members ever sit down together.

Next comes the summer recess when this neck of the woods indulges in its 'cultural' excesses associated with the Twelfth of July – now known as the 'marching season' – when the more violent sections of the Orange Order make nuisances of themselves where they are not wanted.

There have been appeals for calm this year but whether these will be ignored by the beer belly bully boys remains to be seen.

Meantime, half the population and most of the politicians get offside to foreign parts away from it all.

When these 'cultural' exercises are completed and the last huge stinking bonfire has nearly choked the local inhabitants, Secretary of State Paul Murphy will call together the politicians to discuss the fundamental issues which remain to be decided if devolution or home rule is ever to be established on a sound footing.

With the flawed leader of the main Unionist party David Trimble on the skids and the Orange Order intent on dumping the once dominant majority grouping, the Protestant population is left to the tender mercies of Paisley's fundamentalist bigots. A recipe for disaster.

The outlook is not good for a resolution of the impasse... it looks like a long haul or a miracle! Which brings to mind the surprise news that Pope John Paul has been invited by the Irish hierarchy to come to Armagh in the autumn. Could this be the fickle hand of fate pointing the way on his second coming?

The part this great figure of our time played in the amazing downfall of the tyranny of communism has still to be reckoned with.

He is known to be concerned about the unstable peace process here.

Could this elderly, ill, stooped pontiff – who attracted an astounding million people when he celebrated a youth Mass at Lonchamps racecourse outside Paris a few years ago – bring new hope in the confusion of the political turmoil here in Northern Ireland?

That's something worth hoping and praying for.

A modern miracle?

June 28, 2004

This article appeared first in the June 26, 2004 edition of the Irish News.

This article appears thanks to the Irish News. Subscribe to the Irish News