Aubade

Henry has the crispest line of the late night reports cautiously peering at light at the end of the tunnel.

The two leaders presented Northern Ireland’s political parties with a position paper promising devolution of policing and justice powers by 4 May. They also offered unionists changes in how controversial parades are ruled on. The plan is similar to how marches are dealt with in Derry, where the issue has been largely resolved. The prime minister enlisted the help of Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, in his attempt to secure a deal between Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist party, Downing Street confirmed.

Hopefully Eamonn will burst forth when he’s thawed out. Chris Donelly’s irritation with hacks reading the runes from smiles is understandable but heartless. You try standing around for hours in the freezing cold and you’d pontificate on a mirage. On the “Derry model” he’s right about the reverse demographic of a (sadly too) overwhelmingly nationalist city. But is that really the point? The essence of it is surely simple in concept and requires application in detail. And details is what so many of our guys abhor, preferring windy posturing. An agreed framework for parades handling has still to emerge. Lower Ormeau and the rest are flashpoints that go back to square one every year, are they not? Interim solutions only. The principle of negotiation, so often shunned by unionists, is surely the key to tackling Chris’s lugubrious list. Isn’t that what we’re seeing at last at Hillsborough?

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