March 26th, 2007 the leaders of the two major warring parties in Northern Ireland sit across from eachother for the first time ever and agree to negotiations to form a power-sharing government in Northern Ireland.
Even a few short years ago, this possibility seemed out of reach; that terror would reign in the North, warring factions much like the drug gangs that ruled the ghettos of New York during the crack epidemic of the 1980s, making sinple, everyday life impossible.
But it happened yesterday. A real end to The Troubles that began 40 years ago.
A month or so ago, at great risk, Gerry Adams, head of Republican Sinn Fein and number 2 man Martin McGuinness, agreed to formally recognize the "authority" of the British legal apparatus. Prior to this, when a Republican Irish Catholic was brought before a Crown magistrate, he would refuse to stand or participate in any proceedings under the principle that the Court had no authority.
The concessions the IRA and Sinn Fein have made toward peace have been dramatic over the years. They have renounced violence. They have disarmed under the supervision of international observers. They agreed to sit at a table and talk with mortal enemies. They have lived by their stated aim to "take the gun out of Irish politics" in their pursuit of a united, free Ireland.
Adams and McGuinness have been called quisling traitors and put their very lives at risk. At a New Years Day memorial service for Sean South, McGuinness was himself protested against for his position on the police-authority question. The danger to them was real, many wary Republicans polished their rifles and loaded bullets hoping for a shot at them.
The Ulster Unionists - Protestants who sought preservation of rule by Britain, and effective protection against the Taig masses they fear will overrun them were Britain to pull out - have been absolutely steadfast in their refusal to "negotiate with terrorists".
This posture had come to ring hollow as the IRA and Sinn Fein gave more and more to the process, finally arriving a point with the Republican legal shift where to refuse to participate made them look very bad.
It took pressure by the Clinton administration, and the Honorable Pete King, Republican congressman from Long Island, to get enemies to the table in the first place. But it happened, and today is payday.
This calls for a Guinness.