Protestants, Catholics Share Power In Northern Ireland

Bitter religious enemies in Northern Ireland have entered into a historic power-sharing agreement in a region that has seen decades of deadly sectarian strife.

In early May, the Rev. Ian Paisley, head of the predominantly Protestant political party, the Democratic Unionists, and Martin McGuinness, of the largely Catholic party, Sinn Fein, were sworn in as leaders of the Northern Ireland executive government. Paisley is the prime minister and McGuinness is the deputy leader.

Both men, once fierce enemies, acknowledged the bloodshed that reportedly took more than 3,000 lives, known as the Troubles, in their ceremonies at the parliament in Belfast.

Paisley, a Presbyterian minister, said that “while this is a sad day for all the innocent victims of the Troubles, yet it is a special day because we are making a new beginning,” reported The New York Times.

McGuinness described the power-sharing setup as “one of the mightiest leaps forward that this process has seen in almost 15 years.”