There is much talk already about the inevitability of Direct Rule and the fact that the talks are “going nowhere”.
Let’s just wait for the parties to get their feet back under the desks and see how the land lies now that the summer is over.
Something does need to change though, if the same formula is applied over and over why expect a different result? The management of the talks by James Brokenshire has hardly been Premier League. A chair with some charisma and drive wouldn’t go amiss (and a bit more neutrality).
The positive that remains is that the parties, for all their differences, wish to see the Assembly restored. No-one wants to see Direct Rule bar it seems some within the DUP MP team.
The clock is ticking however. With the RHI Inquiry hearings beginning in October how long will it be before we see Arlene Foster at the foot of the Committee table in the Senate being grilled about everything from conversations with Jonathan Bell to her own economic prowess whilst in DETI?
How will the Inquiry impact on public opinion and do the public want to see Foster being returned to the post of First Minister while questions remain unanswered?
One wonders if we need to see the RHI Inquiry completed or at the very least Arlene Foster questioned on our TV screens before a deal becomes possible?
As weeks go by there will be more frustration as policy decisions that cannot be signed off on will increase. The DUP will try and use this against Sinn Féin, but to substitute this position for their own responsibility to reach a deal with other parties is foolhardy.
Matters seem to be coming to a head but not just yet. And sometimes as things come to a head the impossible becomes just possible.
Direct Rule by the Tories sponsored by the DUP (informally or not) is simply not an option as far as nationalists and republicans are concerned and the political consequences of that would be significant. Unionists are no longer a majority in the Assembly so why should this default position continue to reflect this? Nationalists can now rightly argue that a joint-oversight of the North by the two governments should be the default position given the fact there is a unionist minority and a nationalist minority in the Assembly.
Perhaps someone could send a copy of Einstein’s definition of insanity to Stormont House this Monday morning. A change in tack and an indication from both the Irish and British Governments that they are taking the process more seriously would certainly help.