Accentuating the positive

David Cameron speaking at Stormont news conference
David Cameron had an upbeat message about Northern Ireland

David Cameron made no bones about it - his visit to Northern Ireland was an uninterrupted sales pitch.

As payback for June's successful hosting of the G8 summit, the prime minister was more than willing to "bang the drum", as he put it, for Northern Ireland as a great place to do business.

So he acknowledged this week's two murders and a mortar bomb find as "despicable" and "shocking", but urged reporters to "get things in perspective" and keep their eyes trained on "the big picture".

The failure of the first and deputy first ministers to agree on their plan to create 5,000 jobs at the former Maze jail, he argued, was just symptomatic of the problems of working in a coalition.

The prime minister remained convinced Messrs Robinson and McGuinness had the spirit to work things out.

A few days ago the former first minister and senior Conservative peer Lord Trimble said the current Stormont executive is "not delivering very much apart from its existence".

When I asked the prime minister whether the public should believe his upbeat message or Lord Trimble's downbeat assessment, he brushed the discrepancy aside.

He insisted progress is being made, but added that he wants the removal of Belfast's peace walls and the promotion of shared education campuses to move ahead further and faster.

If Peter Robinson's prediction that the investment conference will yield hundreds if not thousands of jobs in the months to come proves correct, few will quibble with the Cameron sales pitch.

However as I watched the prime minister move around the shiny floor at Bombardier's airplane wing assembly plant I felt as if I'd been trapped inside a Bing Crosby song. You know the one...

"You've got to accentuate the positive

Eliminate the negative

And latch on to the affirmative

Don't mess with Mister In-Between

You've got to spread joy up to the maximum

Bring gloom down to the minimum

Have faith or pandemonium's

Liable to walk upon the scene."