For John Hume, this last month may have been the busiest of his life. His supreme skills as a lobbyist, as a political broker, as a twister of guilty consciences, have been stretched to the limit; Desperate to be seen to be as busy politically as the Provisionals are militarily about the nation's unfinished business, Hume last year bludgeoned the political parties in the Republic into the New Ireland Forum. BY OLIVIA O'LEARY
It nearly killed John Hume to leave the Bishop's presentation to the Forum a half an hour after it started, but he had to. Margaret Thatcher has asked to see him and Hume wasn't going to miss a chance to put his and the Forum's case. At the door he looked back eagerly. The round table Forum glowed under the television lights. Bishop Cathal Daly was dealing smoothly with his SDLP questioner. The Taoiseach, the Tanaiste, and the opposition leader and the packed press gallery were, straining to hear every word. Hume's Forum was at last hitting the headlines. By Olivia O Leary
WATCHING GARRET FITZGERALD IN THE DAIL LATELY ONE GETS THE impression of a boy who has learned to ride a bicycle all by himself. He still wobbles -.the fumble factor will never be entirely under control - and he can't help glancing warily over his shoulder at the school bully on the opposition benches ready to send him sprawling. But he's piloted his government's first independent budget through and the New Ireland Forum, has the merit at least of keeping Fianna Fáil quiet and showing FitzGerald to be busy about the nation's unfinished business.