How can Shaun Woodward speak of possible success being just around the corner?

Shaun Woodward who is coming back to Northern Ireland later today wants an urgent meeting with Peter Robinson. Officials in the Northern Ireland Office are in touch with sources close to Mr Robinson to try to arrange a meeting. A spokesman for Peter Robinson has said his boss is remaining at home this week attending to family matters.

The government is in a race against time to try and establish if the DUP leader has any intention of convincing Martin McGuinness of his bona fides on the return of policing and justice powers.This Saturday Sinn Fein is holding an Ard-chomhairle meeting to take an attitude towards the merits or demerits of being in an administration with the DUP.

The deputy First Minister has spelled out that the institutions of the Assembly are not “sustainable” in the absence of a date for movement on policing and justice.

The Robinsons’ personal problems will be factored into any Sinn Fein evaluation, conditional on this matter being handled in a mature and professional manner by Peter Robinson, according to an enlightened Republican source. Shaun Woodward is fooling nobody as of now in saying “success is within grasp” on the issue of policing and justice.

The principals involved, Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson hadn’t spoken for weeks up to twenty four hours ago. In the meantime Iris Robinson has left the stage. It is reported that it is virtually impossible right now to reach the First Minister on his phone.

Against this political inertia how can Shaun Woodward speak of possible success being just around the corner? Journalists at Parliaments are being habitually asked by very senior DUP members who are all at sea, to second guess what exactly is going on in their own ranks.

Contributors on websites are starting to put some pointed questions about the entire political edifice. A very different atmosphere is now obtaining in Parliament Buildings with so much uncertainty over the very existence of the place.

One insider said: “We don’t know what to be doing. Should we be examining plan B?”