PROGRESS IN NORTH CAN’T BURN OUT.

Easter for me is always a space for renewal and dare I say it spiritual revival and this week has proved no exception. In fact on a personal level it has bordered on the weird. On Monday evening we were driving into Dublin and my phone started pinging about the fire at Notre Dame. Now acres of newsprint have been devoted to this subject and shocking as it was for me it stirred deep and disturbing memories of the devastating fire at Slane Castle in 1991. The surreal images of lying in a hospital bed with an oxygen mask over my mouth watching myself on the six o’clock news. I still shudder. Still I look at where we are now and by the end of the week Time Magazine in a spirit of optimism towards the restoration of Notre Dame cited six buildings in the world that had been restored after fire and are now thriving and it warmed the spirit of my heart that Slane Castle was one of them.

Good Friday of course has much depth in our Christian tradition but it is being much bandied about in the context of the Good Friday Agreement and the febrile atmosphere surrounding Brexit. Whilst the sun shines in Ireland this weekend I still have to express my utter frustration at the dismal failure of the political parties to get the democratic institutions in Northern Ireland up and running. Yet again I wish to register my distaste at Sinn Fein’s failure to take up their seats at Westminster. The indicative vote on the Customs Union would have been carried if they had participated . They have a funny way of defining ” acting in the national interest.”

This week marked the visit of the U.S. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, to the island. It was an opportunity to emphasise U.S. support for the Good Friday Agreement. However, we should not forget that politicians like Pelosi and the Clintons are of a certain generation and that future U S politicians may not have the same focus on Ireland as their attention shifts elsewhere. This means that there is an absolute obligation for our own politicians to not allow the foundations built by so many to slip from under them. If I have any wish this weekend this is it and it is a wish I make in the memory of my friend, Mo Mowlam.