It was a set day. A lot of speeches were pro forma. There was a lot of mutual back-slapping. But it was deserved. There is a clarity and a lack of the fudge or conditionality of the past to this dispensation. And Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern both deserve special praise for their perseverence in the face of all the obstacles stacked in their way. Strangely enough, it wasn't the lines of the peace process' most-quoted poet, Seamus Heaney, that came ot mind, rather the over-quoted rhymes of Rudyard Kipling.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
Down South, there was a bit of a lull. Enda Kenny's main contribution was swirling round the house and mind the dresser as he did an old-time waltz in the midlands. Trevor Sargent took to the high seas to visit a wind farm off the coast of Arklow. Of course, for Sinn Fein, the PDs and Fianna Fail the focus was unsurprisingly on the North.
Back in Dublin, Jim O'Keeffe got himself into a bit of a pickle over crime rates. When it was put to him that the figure of about 100,000 headline crimes is the same now as it was 12 years ago despite an increase in population, he conceded, 'That's true'.
So what about the spiral of crime that Fine Gael are always banging on about? Jim then tried to argue that what he was talking about was a spiral of serious and heinous crime. I've long believed that Fine Gael has been pavolovian in its crime policies (drunk tanks, boot camps, electronic tagging) in the full knowledge that you can't be tough enough in crime policies for the people. But when you parse it, as was done yesterday, some of their policies don't quite stack up. We'll return to this.