In Ireland, Peace Is Popular

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You can almost hear the sigh of relief from moderate politicians across Britain and Ireland. The Northern Ireland peace accord -- that Mitchell-Blair-Ahern bid to capture the middle ground -- has succeeded, according to the first poll taken in the wake of its completion. The Irish Times/Guardian survey shows 73 percent support for the deal north of the border, and 61 percent backing in the Republic. Barring any major upsets, the May referendums should show similar numbers.

That’s a blow for people like Rev. Ian Paisley, the Protestant rabble-rouser who launched a bitter “No” campaign against the accord just one day ago. It’s a boost for John Hume and David Trimble, leaders of the more mainstream nationalist and unionist parties, who always said their members were behind the basic principles of this peace. “It is the best deal available -- warts and all,” Trimble told the BBC Wednesday. And who’s afraid of a few warts like the North-South committee and the decommissioning of weapons? Not the Irish.