No news may be good news, but silence has its risks

Sinn Féin minister Gerry Kelly urged against any comments that might unsettle the negotiations and claimed he had warned Mr Woodward against commenting publicly.
Arlene Foster “…this is really the last piece of the jigsaw and we want to make sure that we’re doing it in the right way.”
It may be turning out to be another great cliffhanger but – granted I’ve a vested interest – the news blanket worries me. It’s raising expectations and may be a sign that real business is being done for the first time in many months. But the wall of silence reinforces the notion of our provincial politicians are a race apart rather than our humble servants. I remember too well Peter Robinson’s admission that the DUP failed to prepare the ground for the St Andrews Agreement. That failure hangs round the heads of the DUP today. What was that again from my lord Morrow: “the transfer of policing powers will not happen in the lifetime of the current Assembly, (due to end in May 2011)?
Sinn Fein may have to answer the charge bluffing over deadlines. So if there’s a sudden timetable that stretches beyond “a few days “ or a deal on parades and a Human Rights bill, fantastic, but it will take a lot of explaining all round. Above all, we need to know what made the difference, if the talks succeed. Amazing to think it might have been the alchemy of Iris Robinson. We’d be better getting a progress report through briefings to my esteemed former colleagues rather than waiting passively for white smoke. What’s that old saying about the people’s right to know?

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London