By Ray Fleming

“ANOTHER very good Friday” was Gerry Adams' apt comment on the late night agreement which put in place the final piece of the Northern Ireland Good Friday Accord reached in April 1998. Under the agreement reached between Adams' Sinn Fein and Peter Robinson's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) responsibility for policing and justice will be devolved from London to Belfast on 12 April -- the prize for Sinn Fein -- and a new working group will be formed to review arrangements for the thousands of parades which the Protestant Orange Order holds in the summer -- the concession demanded by DUP.

Peter Robinson deserves credit for turning round in four days the opposition to the agreement of almost half of the elected members of the DUP group in the Northern Ireland Assembly. In the end he got their unanimous support, probably by persuading them that elections might follow a failure to reach an agreement. -- elections in which they might lose the status of largest party in the Assembly to Sinn Fein. Credit also to Gerry Adams and Martin McGuiness of Sinn Fein who did not overplay their strong hand but left it to the DUP to recognise the inevitability of the transfer of policing and justice matters to the power-sharing Assembly. The detailed progress to 12 April is in a 21-page document. There may yet be difficulties but the course laid out by Gordon Brown and his Irish counterpart Brian Cowen two weeks ago has provided the key to success.