Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Say what you "c" Richard

At this precise moment 15 years ago, I was deep inside Castle Buildings at Stormont waiting for the finishing touches to be put on the Good Friday Agreement. 

Anyone who was there that day - or outside with Ian Paisley shouting abuse - will never forget it.  And despite the often bumpy ride that Northern Ireland has had since then, it's been a very good thing for the place I will always call home. 

One of the most challenging issues was decommissioning or, for the uninitiated, paramilitary groups giving up their weapons. 

Yesterday I mentioned the late, great Richard Whiteley whom I was fortunate to meet several times before his death in 2005.  I even got him to phone my mum once. 

I remember at a particular family gathering in 2000, he asked me how the Northern Ireland peace process was progressing post-Agreement.  I explained that IRA decommissioning, at that time, was the major stumbling block.

"So everything is being held up by these terrorists?" he asked.

"Yes," I replied.

Richard thought about this for a second before coming out with a line which, for me, makes him immortal: "What a bunch of c***s!"