DUP in strong position to do a deal…

Maurice Hayes has a quick run down on the election prospects for each party. Amongst other things, he thinks the SDLP had dropped the ball, in a strategic sense, in trying to outgreen Sinn Fein, who he reckons has done enough to satisfy the wider nationalist community, if not gain their vote. The DUP will continue to reap rewards, not least with the useful fiction that Sinn Fein could end up as the biggest party. But, Hayes asks, with they do a deal?

Sinn Fein certainly will, partly because they have nowhere else to go, partly to improve their image in the southern elections.

As for the DUP, most commentators agree that Dr Paisley, too, wants to settle affairs and to preside over a local administration. He will not say so before the election and will keep the heat on Sinn Fein on policing.

The period between election and March 26 may well be enough for the DUP to conclude that Sinn Fein have done enough to prove commitment. At that stage, Dr Paisley, holding signed letters of resignation from all his candidates, is in a strong position to do the deal.

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