I HEARD that benign character Jim Prior on a BBC phone-in last week on concern for unity in Northern Ireland. This John Bull figure is well liked in Dublin where he is very much at home, for example at the Dublin Spring Show, discussing fatstock prices with strong Irish farmers.
In the search for unity in the island of Ireland the one constant glimmer of hope is the Irish rugby team selected from the 32 counties of Ireland.
There is a delightful custom on the eve of the England v Ireland rugby international at Twickenham. The Irish Embassy in London and the Ulster Office host an evening reception for the visiting Irish team on alternate occasions. Last time the Irish Ambassador was host at the Irish Embassy in Grosvenor Place, and this year it is the turn of the Ulster Office in Berkeley Street to be host, and at which the Irish Ambassador and his colleagues will be guests of honour.
Would that there were many more such highly civilised social occasions.