Not-an-Executive meets

It wasn’t an Executive meeting. But after the UUP and SDLP ministers met this morning they joined the DUP ministers this afternoon for an informal talk as the stalemate continues. As the iol report notes.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Peter Robinson had threatened serious consequences if the meeting planned for today – the first cabinet meeting to be held in three months – did not go ahead.

But Sinn Féin defied the DUP and blocked today’s planned meeting, leaving the ministers from the DUP, Ulster Unionist Party and SDLP to hold their own separate round-table talks. Mr Robinson held discussions with the unionist and nationalist ministers in his Stormont office, while Sinn Féin’s deputy first minister Martin McGuiness continued his own work in his office upstairs.

Adds And this from Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Shaun Woodward, MP.

Mr Woodward said: “I am rather optimistic actually about how the politics is working here. “There is very clear evidence that on a number of issues, a number of policies, the political leaders, the First and Deputy First Ministers (Peter Robinson and Martin McGuiness) are finding their way through very practical issues with practical solutions. “Of course it is important that the Assembly meets, it is important that the Executive meets, but the … timing I believe is less important than the content and the engagement.” … “Because the Executive has not met this morning doesn’t mean to say that government isn’t going on in Northern Ireland. “Substantial progress is being made on issues that even six months ago were thought to be intractable”