The press are currently making their way up the hill to the clubhouse for a press conference and to be given the government’s paper laying out what the way forward is. But the over riding feeling there is just how marginal Northern Ireland has become. Given the outspoken remarks (Dennett’s apologia on the BBC) of his military chief of staff, Tony Blair might have felt his place was in Downing Street to take face to face meetings instead of conference calls late into the night.Most of yesterday was spent in directing heat at the DUP, since it they who are refusing to shift their ground. The feeling is that are more content to wait for another IMC report or two before dealing. It may also come down to who jumps first. The October 2003 shafting of Trimble just before a crucial election, there is likely to be not a little trepidation in agreeing to a deal they could be humiliated on.
The month of March seems to be an outside bet. It would provide a bit more security in terms of bedding in progress. If it is copper fastened with an election, it pushes up the stakes for any party defaulting, and gives the DUP the opportunity to sell their ‘version’ of the Belfast Agreement Mark II.
But we’ll know better when we get a hold of the government papers.
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