President Obama ranks Martin McGuinness over Gordon Brown
Cranmer is not sure when St Patrick’s Day developed into a week of festivities, but all the leprechauns and faerie folk will need to bury their crock o’ gold a little deeper if they are to avoid being cajoled into continuing their investments into the Province. That is, if their Irish-American crocks have not been depleted or totally eradicated by the credit crunch. The DUP-Sinn Féin duo will certainly need to ask a few leprechauns where the gold is stashed if they are to continue to accommodate their spending plans.
This tour culminates in Washington DC where President Obama will give the political leaders of Northern Ireland a welcome far and above that granted to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Gordon brown entered the White House through a side entrance and was granted a half-hour chat with the President followed by a working lunch. There was no press conference and the British delegation was limited in numbers.
Mr McGuinness will walk in through the front door of the White House and be given the full red carpet treatment. It is a de facto State Visit with full retinue and a joint press conference. There shall be two hours of talks and a lavish gala reception at which Mr McGuinness shall be a guest of honour, seated on the top table.
It is now clear that Gordon Brown was not so much rushing to Washington to beat President Sarkozy or Chancellor Merkel, but to beat the Irish.
In the event, the Prime Minister has been upstaged and humiliated anyway. The relationship between the Democrats and Irish Republicans has always been close, and Gordon Brown’s bestowal of a knighthood upon Senator Kennedy has done little to redirect their traditional sympathies.
It is rumoured that President Obama will use the occasion to announce the appointment of a Special Envoy to Northern Ireland. With news today of the murder of a policeman following the execution of two British soldiers over the weekend, there may indeed be a role for such an envoy to dissuade the disciples of Mr McGuinness from their murderous ways. One awaits lots of green t-shirts proclaiming the signs and wonders of O'Bama.