Early reaction from the parties…

THE IRA has blamed Ian Paisley for the breakdown in the latest negotiations. Mr Paisley has returned the favour – though his outlook is not as bleak as you might expect.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan has also welcomed the significant political progress made, although he had some criticisms.

Gerry Adams has revealed his recent letter to the Taoiseach confirming Sinn Fein accepted “the political package contained in the proposals of the two governments” (and blamed the DUP for the failure to reach agreement).

All the statements from the UUP on the breakdown have been attacks on or defensive reactions to statements from the DUP.

Alliance leader David Ford sees a lack of trust between the DUP and Sinn Fein as the problem, but welcomed the political progress made.

The two governments’ eternal optimism for a deal remains undiminished, publicly at least.

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