Back on the right road
IS this one more historic milestone in Northern Ireland's long and wearisome journey from hostility to harmony? Or is it another false dawn, destined to be overshadowed by some fresh outbreak of obduracy?
As nearly two weeks of acrimonious negotiations between the DUP and Sinn Fein looked like going from bad to worse last Tuesday, the outgoing SDLP leader, Mark Durkan, reminded everyone that this weekend marks the 1,000th day of devolution and still the DUP and Sinn Fein could barely exchange a civil word. The road ahead looked bleak.
Then, somehow, within 24 hours, there was a change of pace and mood, which seemed to coincide with Peter Robinson's return to the position of First Minister. Interestingly, on the same day, the Northern Secretary warned in the House of Commons that if no agreement was reached within days, the North could lose £800m that had been pledged by the prime minister.