…Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams, sitting side by side for their first news conference in Stormont, confirmed that power-sharing would begin on 8 May.
Mr Paisley said the DUP was committed to full participation in government and Mr Adams said it was a “new era”.
…The British and Irish governments had said they would shut the assembly if an executive was not agreed on Monday.
Emergency legislation will now be rushed through Parliament on Tuesday to give effect to the 8 May power-sharing deal.
Mr Adams - wearing his Easter lily to commemorate those who died in the 1916 rebellion - and Mr Paisley were sitting at one corner of a table at Stormont.
[Guestblogger’s note: at far right in that linked photo is First Minister-presumptive Paisley’s probable Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, former member of the IRA Army Council high command. Oh wouldn’t I love to be a fly on the wall at the upcoming governmental Meetings :]
…Prime Minister Tony Blair said it was “a very important day for the people of Northern Ireland, but also for the people and the history of these islands”.
“Everything we have done over the last ten years has been a preparation for this moment.”
Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said this had “the potential to transform the future of this island”.
…In the assembly election earlier this month, the DUP and Sinn Fein emerged as the two largest parties.
…The Northern Ireland Assembly has been suspended since October 2002, amid allegations of an IRA spy ring at Stormont.
A subsequent court case collapsed. Direct rule has been in place since that date.
Good job, boys. / Now hold fast to that spirit.
UPDATE: Here’s a good BBC wrap-up re the Significance of the day’s events. Money quotes:
…Such was the symbolic power of it all that the image of Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley side by side at the conference table will surely come in future as the image that defines the peace process.
… Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams still represent two parties which will disagree about almost everything once power-sharing is restored but almost everyone in Northern Ireland understands the significance of this moment; in future, differences will be resolved inside a parliament, not in the streets beyond it.