The machinations of a long weekend finish with a meeting today (rather than a kickstart of the institutions) between Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley. As the Guardian notes (H/T SuperSoupy), “The DUP’s deadline would still enable the executive to start before Mr Blair resigns, or at least leaves No 10”. It also gives both parties an extension to look for more concessions (a little more sugar for our already highly Processed™ politics?), Sinn Fein a nice little success story in time for the General Election, and Tony Blair at least one up beat theme with which to top out his premiership.
One Whitehall source said: “Yes, it is messy and we are losing some face, but if the political parties can reach a consensus … then that is better than us trying to force an agreement upon them. We are insisting on the meeting as a sign that the DUP cannot go on delaying indefinitely. We will also get a deal before the prime minister leaves office.”
So, as we remarked when this ‘timetable’ was first announced, it is to be a forgiving schedule: a May rather than March restart. But as David Ford noted last night, the DUP seems to be shifting from condition-led, to a calendar-led settlement that delays devolution but “without stating what the conditions are”.
Devolution of policing and justice powers have still to be agreed, for instance. Is that water boiling yet?
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