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How Robinson and McGuinness are showing leadership

By Gail Walker

Published 08/06/2011

Given the pressure of the week just ending - old murders, new SpAds, cross comments and explosions in Derry - it was surely a sign of the times that the First and Deputy First Ministers still hove into view at the CIPR media awards last Friday night in Belfast's Europa hotel.

A sign of the times because there is a clear intent not to be derailed, not to be deflected, not to be thought to stumble.

A characteristic of the difficult public encounters between the DUP and Sinn Fein through preceding days - though the topic was intensely and deeply felt on all sides - was restraint.

It's hard to imagine what issue or event would drive a wedge between Robinson and McGuinness at this stage.

The eagerness of some in the community not only to imagine it but to invent it seems only to glue the two of them together more firmly.

Their shared regard for the late Press photographer John Harrison, which brought them to the awards, gives an indication of the long and eventful journey both these men have travelled and which John vividly recorded.

Something on those long hours in the air and on the road brought us all to the astonishing rapport these two continue to display across every conceivable barrier.

Inch by inch, word by word, they are building a sense of fixed purpose against the past.

Even those who felt a bit uneasy about their alliance and who had all that unease made open and raw with the Mary Travers controversy, can only be struck by the solidity of the stand taken by both McGuinness and Robinson.

It looks a lot like leadership to me.

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