Will handshake lead to elections?

(from the Irish People)

We all learned recently that Gerry Adams and David Trimble shook hands for the very first time in the early summer.

Typically, the media tried to create a stir about the event and Trimble was on the spot to account for his action. He said the handshake was a simple gesture in recognition of Adams' efforts to quell violence in flashpoint areas this summer and shouldn't be made into more than that. Try as he might, Trimble can't make less of it than it was.

Is it any wonder that word of the handshake was kept under wraps for weeks and weeks? It signals a seismic shift from Trimble -- a crossing of the imaginary line in the sand of Trimble's psyche. In the north of Ireland everything -- and I mean everything -- revolves around symbolism.

The symbolism of a handshake between the leader of Sinn Féin and the leader of the Ulster Unionists is monumental. The question now is whether David Trimble will stay across the line or will he retreat backwards?

The reality of the peace process -- and the elections for that matter -- is linked to what's happening within Unionism and in particular the Ulster Unionist Party, whether we like it or not.

Of course its intolerable and just a continuance of the unionist veto, but that's the way it is.

Maybe, just maybe, that one handshake will deliver the elections and provide the necessary symbolism of having irrevocably turned the corner.

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© 2003 Irish Republican News