Sunday 23 July 2017

Winter is coming... but relations are thawing with the Houses of the North

Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and First Minister Arlene Foster sitting across a table from Taoiseach Enda Kenny and members of his Cabinet at the North South Ministerial Council meeting in Armagh yesterday Photo: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye
Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and First Minister Arlene Foster sitting across a table from Taoiseach Enda Kenny and members of his Cabinet at the North South Ministerial Council meeting in Armagh yesterday Photo: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

A dusting of snow topped the fir trees on the mountains and Arctic gusts swirled past the twin cathedrals of Armagh - but at the top table, it was cocktails sipped from coconuts, Hawaiian shirts and cheery steel kettle drums.

Best party ever, gushed Charlie Flanagan, as Enda gave Arlene Foster a little cuddle and publicly outed their 'special relationship'. Martin McGuinness stretched out with a smile, basking in the unaccustomed balmy temperatures.

"I've seen her more often than I've seen my wife this week," declared Enda as Arlene smiled bashfully, her eyes widening just a fraction as she fled. We half expected her to tear off that sparkly brooch in the shape of a crown she'd earlier pinned meaningfully to the centre of her jacket and cast it into the disputed waters of Lough Foyle, so cordial was this newly altered atmosphere on Enda and Arlene's third encounter this week.

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