Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Long memories

From the opener of the Guardian's excellent three part series on the Northern Ireland peace process --

Officials waited nervously to greet the first Sinn Féin delegation to visit 10 Downing Street in 76 years [in December 1997]. Both sides felt what Mr Blair later famously called the "hand of history" when Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness walked into the cabinet room which came close to being blown up in the IRA's 1991 mortar attack.

"Everyone was a bit nervous and hadn't really got a relationship," recalls one senior British official present for the talks. "Before they sat down they said: 'So this is where all the trouble happened.' We on our side were thinking they meant the mortars that came over and landed in the garden [in 1991]. They meant Michael Collins coming in and negotiating the [1921 Anglo-Irish] treaty."

Allowing the freedom that a blog gives for rash generalizations, is there any Irish person out there who wouldn't have thought that the Shinners were referring to 1921?

UPDATE 9 JULY: According to Alastair Campbell's book, the line came from Martin McGuinness and Campbell sounds like the source for the British interpretation of it.

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