Hope you are still awake at the back!! Tony and Bertie meet in Belfast today to lay out the timetable for re-deployment. Pravda reports Ahern saying that if they cannot get an answer by November we could be talking 2010 before there is a functioning government in Northern Ireland. It looks like the local MLAs will have precious little to say for themselves after weeks of barracking in committee. The Belfast Telegraph has a useful review of what’s outstanding:
Many still question whether either the DUP or Sinn Fein are up for a deal that neither Mr Blair nor Mr Ahern themselves would countenance. For unionists, the next IMC report on the IRA will be crucial, but for Sinn Fein, the prospect of greater north-south co-operation and a decisive role in the Dail could be more attractive than a troublesome Stormont partnership. The hope is that the two premiers can get the parties, and people, to face up to the realities of the situation, as supporters of devolution. Threats and bribes, to force agreement, will provide no long-term answers.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty