What odds a deal today? I dont personally see it happening, and as I argued in a piece last week, if a deal involves unionism succeeding in returning us to the Drumcree era, then we are probably better off without a deal at this stage.
Sinn Fein have handled the current talks process pretty faultlessly to date, with the arrival of the two Prime Ministers a signal that the pressure on Peter Robinson to deliver on a date for the devolution of Policing and Justice has been cranked up several gears. Gerry Moriarty in the Irish Times struck the right tone when he observed that the DUPs lack of humility could be the final undoing of the current phase of devolution, a view confirmed by the very fact that the DUP are seeking to stir the pot over parades as a price for devolution (something condemned by UUP stalwart, Roy Garland yesterday.)
Time, as ever, will tell…
The pan-Unionist front talks have seemingly buoyed elements of both leading unionist political parties whilst at the same time leading to key figures in the local Tory front walking away, taking with them the already barely credible claims of a new post-sectarian politics.
Meanwhile, the award for ill-conceived (and timed) political initiative of the year must go to Alasdair McDonnell, whose front page Irish News call for a centre-ground alliance between his party and the UUP was blown out of the water by the subsequent Hatfield House talks. Mind you, given the Labour furore over those talks hosted by Lord Cranborne, the fall-out narrative may be one which holds a reckless and inexperienced Cameron leadership to blame for a careless intervention at a crucial period in the negotiating process.