“the people will starve while the missiles get bigger and the tests more frequent…”

In Northern Ireland language often becomes something other than the literal meaning of the words selected by the speaker. So Talks, End and Failure have been used so often that they, like the proverbial chewing gum, lose their flavour on the bedpost overnight.

So this morning it becomes obvious that “the talks” are “to continue” and therefore have “not failed”. The English Direct Rule Minister’s glide path continues with the Conservatives rather than a Sinn Fein Finance Minister setting NI’s next budget.

[Pushing power back onto that island rather than this one? – Ed]. Perhaps, or at least until the next reverse ferret?

The Irish Times leader writer had this to say this morning…

Any protests at budget cuts from either the DUP or Sinn Féin should be treated with disdain given they have passed up the chance to have any say on how the North’s budget should be spent.

The two parties have also undermined their own influence over the overarching question of Brexit.

Given its damaging implications for the people of Northern Ireland, it is regrettable that Sinn Féin, in particular, is missing the opportunity to advance the interests of the majority who voted to remain in the European Union.

Except that the DUP still has senior influence over Brexit (they are essential to the Tories pulling it off, something Irish commentators on both sides of the Irish Sea seem loath to accept). Doors are opening to them now in London that previously had remained firmly shut.

In a couple of sentences, Newton Emerson sums up the realpolitik underlying all these tooings and froings…

…there is just as much magical thinking in Sinn Féin’s ‘respect agenda’, where the executive will apparently be stabilised by the DUP agreeing never to outwit republicans again.

This fondly imagined prospect, sadly not called voluntary submission, is in effect a demand for the DUP to give up normal politics because it is too good at it.

You can be very sure it won’t. But the corollary, as Newton also points out, will be to…

…motivate Sinn Féin to refine its threats to devolution instead of just getting better at the day to day business of politics. As in North Korea, the people will starve while the missiles get bigger and the tests more frequent.


Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty