An end to childish and insulting behaviours….

Roy Garland reckons that most alternatives to the deal on offer at St Andrews is pie in the sky. Now, he argues, it is time for the DUP to cut to the chase and negotiate directly with Sinn Fein.

Genuine fears remain that a deal might allow Sinn Féin and the DUP to carve up everything between them and to follow their own selfish agendas.

Some critics postulate endless possible alternatives but surely having come this far, most alternatives are now pie in the sky. If this deal is squandered all future options – apart from joint authority – would be seriously diminished, perhaps for a very long time.

Sinn Féin is right to point up the arrogance and stupidity of the DUP’s refusal to speak with Sinn Féin “sinners”. The way to resolve differences is surely to talk. The DUP leader professes to be a follower of Jesus but Jesus never set preconditions before talking to anyone.

Paisley’s refusal reminds one of childhood friends who sent those they disagreed with to Coventry. It was childish and insulting behaviour that appealed to base instincts. Paisley will have to find courage to change and end this nonsense by getting down to serious direct negotiations.

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

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