A Christmas week which was largely dominated by Christmas – not always the case in Green Field Number 4. Yes, Richard Haass did host talks but whatever excitement there may had been at the commencement of his mission had largely given away to muted embarrassment at his departure before Christmas.
Even the indefatigable (and excellent) BBC’s Mark Davenport, who had to don his big overcoat atop his political anorak and sit patiently outside buildings various and await news of non-developments couldn’t convey any sense of anticipation or interest when it was announced that Ricky and Meg had gone away empty handed – and then reported that they would be back after Christmas.
If there was little of political interest in the current affairs of Green Field Number 4, then perhaps the past, in the shape of the newly released papers on both sides of the border, offered more hope?
But, if the summary provided by the BBC with its exciting (not) headline “Thatcher pressed on plastic bullets” is anything to go by – then PRONI are keeping the interesting stuff to themselves.
Papers released under the 30-year rule by the (Irish) Department of Foreign Affairs are a bit more worthy of attention, with the gen on Garret’s (Fitzgerald) attempt to lure Maggie (Thatcher) gently down the path to joint sovereignty (of Green Field Number 4), via John Hume’s policy of “Not Brits out, but Irish in”.
The papers providing the detail on the early manoeuvres which led, a couple of years later, to the Anglo Irish agreement(AIA). (Arguably Garret managing to convince Maggie to accept the AIA was the greatest Irish post-war diplomatic achievement – and the AIA was surely the key building block for the ‘Peace’ of 1998.)
Other Irish government papers which were released reminds us that history does indeed like to repeat itself and that in Ireland there seems to be a resolute determination not to learn from past mistakes – with the details on the coalition government (Fine Gael and Labour) of 1983 wrestling with the economic crisis – following a period of Fianna Fail recklessness.
What is not quite as predictable though, is whether Haass has kicked the Union flag controversy into long enough grass and whether the DUP can both go ahead with, and then live with, a reorganisation of Council boundaries that will inevitably lead to the further greening of Belfast (as seems inevitable) in the forthcoming Council elections.
*carrickally – Can you be so good as to add the appropriate Ulster Scots?