Speculation on the state of play

Don’t you just hate it when the media interpret camera smiles as evidence of significant progress? Once again the night oil looks to be burnt as the late news’ report the latest thoughts and inferences from political observers, inside and out of the talks.

As things currently stand- again, with the health warning of being based on TV News speculation- a ‘deal’ would seem to be abroad which will deliver devolution of policing and justice in early May and a new ‘process’ through which parade organisers and residents may choose to/ be compelled to dialogue. As far as I’ve heard, there’s been no mention of progress of an Irish Language Act but significant mention of the ‘Derry model’ which, all involved need hardly be reminded, resulted in Orange feet a-walking.On the face of it, two things strike me: for the DUP to achieve any progress (from their perspective)over parading, in the absence of any concrete moves over an Irish Language Act or any other reciprocal concession to nationalism- would be tantamount to a negotiating victory for unionism, not least because the DUP already secured reciprocal concessions as the price for the devolution of policing and justice at St Andrew’s but also because they entered these negotiations on the proverbial back foot.

That’s one interpretation. A second view: Alex Attwood, speaking on UTV Live tonight, was intriguingly keen on emphasising that it was the SDLP wot prevented damage to the Parades Commission in tonight’s negotiation, speaking as if he was already conscious that the consensual position around parades would not be significantly different to that already existing and, therefore, not something nationalist communities should get worked up about.

As ever, time will tell…