Saturday 27 December 2014

'The hands of both men outstretched seemed to me a more potent image than the actual handshake'

The words of Ian Paisley boomed out. "Let me give this man a grip!" The voice of the self-trained orator who, as a young preacher, had practised his sermons out loud as he walked the glens of Antrim, carried easily on the breeze on a fine spring day, rising even above the staccato bursts of camera shutters.

He strode purposefully towards Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, his arm outstretched. We were expecting this photo opportunity but I remember being curiously moved.

This was Ian Paisley, the ogre of my youth, the firebrand leader of unionism, the uncompromising and vehement opponent of the South. Yet here he was greeting our Taoiseach in the most cordial way as First Minister of Northern Ireland.

We didn't hear what Bertie said but we could see that there was warmth in his grip too.

"This is history," I thought.

I was pleased with the final photo. The hands of both men outstretched seemed to me a more potent image than the actual handshake. And, of course it was in pin sharp focus. A result.

Gerry Mooney

Irish Independent

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