Time moves rapidly in politics. Brian Cowen was heard to remark on that recently. This week he appointed his new Cabinet and traveled ‘up north’ to the US NI Investment Conference. He will no doubt be seeking to build bridges with Peter Robinson. When he was Foreign Affairs Minister he apparently told Peter Mandelson that ‘beyond the constitutional acceptance that Northern Ireland remained part of the UK, there should be no further evidence of Britishness in the governance of NI’. This week when Mr Cowen addressed the assembled audience at Hillsborough he was at pains to point out that while he wanted to see the development of an All Ireland (island?) economy he did not want to encourage a belief that he would seek to interfere with the institutions as established.
Peter Robinson, who recently remarked how Finance Minster Cowen had gone on to become Prime Minister and how Gordon Brown had also gone from Finance to PM - and how he was eager to follow in their footsteps – may now not to be quite so keen to follow Gordon Brown’s footsteps given Mr Brown’s recent political misfortunes.