I said earlier that I was waiting to see if anyone blinked following the first briefings of the political parties on the joint proposals from the governments.. well.. if this report on the BBC is correct, it sounds like the two governments blinked.. Again. The suggestions of committees operating through the summer, or of the Assembly operating for some months without an Executive, appear to have been dropped. That doesn’t make the prospects for any talks at some stately home being successful any greater..[Has Leeds Castle been suggested yet? – Ed] Nor does it say much for the newly proposed absolute deadline, apparently set for 24th November.From the BBC report –
BBC Northern Ireland political editor Mark Devenport said the assembly would break for summer before being recalled in September for 12 weeks until the end of November.
He also said the political parties have been told the British and Irish governments are considering holding more talks at a stately home during the summer recess to deal with outstanding problems.[emphasis added]
News of the deadline followed a series of talks between the Irish premier and some of Northern Ireland’s political parties in Dublin on Thursday.
There is, however, a suggestion that there is to be an emergency bill “to be put through Westminster to change some of the Stormont rules”.
Also in the same BBC report.. the preferred strategy of the NIO, and Jonathan Powell, continues
Meanwhile, sources have also told the BBC that next week’s package of economic assistance for deprived loyalist areas should amount to about £30m.
Some sources within unionism have expressed disappointment at the sum, given the recent cuts in areas such as education in Belfast.
However, other loyalist sources said they see the initiative as a challenge and will work with whatever money is provided for areas such as skills and training, housing and urban regeneration.
The first figure I can recall being mentioned was £70 million.. although that’s hardly a sign of progress.