Northern Ireland’s devolved Assembly will finally begin work this week – after rival Protestant and Catholic parties took a power-sharing pledge of office at Stormont. US Senator Ted Kennedy was among the VIP guests who witnessed the historic ceremony.Formerly bitter enemies, Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams heard the DUP leader and new First Minister Ian Paisley pledge to co-operate with Catholics and the government of the Republic: “I welcome the pledge we have all taken to that effect today. That is the rock foundation upon which we must build – and we all intend to build.”
Outgoing UK Interior Minister John Reid looked on as Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness took the oath: “We will continue to rely on that support as we strive towards a society moving from division and disharmony to one that celebrates our diversity and is determined to prove better for all our people.”
Sharing power and also sharing a joke – these are scenes that would have been unthinkable not too long ago. The first meeting of the new Executive is scheduled for later this week.