The recent visit to the U.S. by Northern Ireland First Minster Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was a welcome sign that the two parties, Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), have found a way to work together in government.
While here they met with President George W. Bush, who deserves praise and credit for his continuing involvement in the Northern Irish process, and with Irish American leaders across a broad range of business and politics.
The general view now is that the North is finally settled, and that McGuinness and Robinson have sent a strong signal that both sides are ready to work together and create a new future for Northern Ireland.
However, there was an interesting and possibly sinister development at the Ulster Unionist Party's (UUP) annual convention last weekend in Belfast.
The UUP has been handily defeated by the DUP in the past few elections and has seemingly fallen out of favor with voters. However, their most recent convention may suggest otherwise.
Their guest of honor was none other than David Cameron, leader of the Tory Party and the man most pundits believe will almost certainly be the next British prime minister.
Cameron gave an old-style Tory speech, praising the union and vowing to protect it when he is in power. His Unionist listeners lapped it up, setting up a very interesting and dangerous scenario after the next British election.
If Cameron, now an avowed Unionist supporter, is elected, then we will have the same imbalance that was the bane of the North's existence for many years when the Tory Party under Margaret Thatcher ruled Britain.
Cameron as a mouthpiece for the aspirations of Ulster Unionism is in direct contrast with the famous statement by former British Secretary for Northern Ireland Peter Brooke in 1990 that Britain no longer had any "selfish strategic or economic interest in Northern Ireland," a statement that underpinned the entire peace process as it signaled Britain's neutrality.
That neutrality was a key component in what followed as successive prime ministers tried to negotiate a way forward with both communities which ensured there was an equality of opportunity on both sides.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Bair exemplified that course of action as he became a trusted figure on both sides despite periods where it was a very close run thing indeed that the peace process pressed ahead.
Cameron now appears to be putting that notion of British neutrality to one side after his Belfast speech. The idea of a future British prime minister blatantly taking the side of the Ulster Unionists again is a grave one to consider.
Hopefully it will not come to that, but it appears clear from his remarks that he intended his statement to be taken in that way. As the BBC reported, "He gave his Unionist audience what they wanted; a commitment to never be neutral when it comes to supporting the union, and a line which came close to repudiating a famous policy statement by the former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Brooke."
The BBC stated, "Cameron deliberately used the same phrase, insisting that he does have a selfish and strategic interest in utilizing the talents of people from throughout the U.K."
In other words, Cameron is breaking with the neutrality pact that made peace in Northern Ireland possible. It is critical that we in Irish America make clear we know what he is intending here and that the American response is both swift and clear.
There is no going back on any side from what the peace process has created.