Going, Going, Gone?
While in the US recently with a group of church leaders from Northern Ireland we were driving through Pittsburgh when our mobile phones all started to indicate that we had each been sent a message... We each checked to discover that Dr. Ian Paisley had announced that he was standing down as First Minister of Northern Ireland and the Leader of the DUP in May.
While in a meeting this morning with the same group of church leaders reflecting on our recent visit to the US, again messages started to come in, informing us this time of Bertie Ahern's intention to resign as Taoiseach in May.
The column writers, satirists and cartoonists will have a field day with this conjunction of events. There will be pictures of the two of them walking hand in hand into the sunset... or jumping off a cliff... There will be reminders that in both cases their political demise was hastened by accusations of sleaze coming too close to home for comfort. And there will be much debate about their collective contributions to Ireland, north and south, as we find it today. Certainly their historic positions are secure in the history of this island... For good and/or ill.
Many others will do a much better job than I assessing Paisley's role in the development of the troubles, Ahern's role in the development of the Celtic Tiger economy and the contributions of both of them to our peace process... So I won't make any value judgements now... Except to say that whatever the myriad faults of both of them, I would much rather have either of them than the other national leader prominent in the news today.
Because sadly when we came out of that meeting today there was still no news coming through of any intention on the part of Robert Mugabe to resign as President of Zimbabwe, even though it seems that despite alleged vote rigging, he has lost both his party's majority in parliament and the popular vote for President. But surely even he cannot resist this sign that his years in charge are finally over... Can he?
What lies ahead for Northern Ireland or its big brother down south, who knows...
But please let this be a new dawn for Zimbabwe.