A mockery of a negotiation so far

So “huge differences remain” if you’re the DUP  but “good progress” was made if you’re a novice British minister  reading off the pre-prepared NIO script. What else don’t we know that the political correspondents can’t be bothered to say? The role of the chair is unknown – co-chairs, facilitators or dynamic leaders with a cunning plan ready to view?

“We do not negotiate in public” said Sinn Fein’s Conor Murphy last week as if for all the world this was the most normal of positions to take. Entirely predictably the minor parties didn’t get their way on transparency.

While there was a meeting of the parties today, none of the substantive issues were discussed,”  (said Colum Eastwood).

“We still do not know the detail of what is going on behind closed doors between the DUP and Sinn Féin.

“If this process is to mean anything, all parties must engage and be engaged on equal terms.”

Tomorrow in a trailed “milestone” event, Karen Bradley is to make a show of briefing the Commons.  What’s the betting that she’ll set the  first final  deadline as “ time is short?”

Nothing will come of nothing unless the two governments supply the catalyst.

Again predictably, wider interest in London and Dublin is non-existent. Thank goodness Sinn Fein have been providing some diversionary activity in character to allow  others to rant and themselves to prevaricate once again.

Expectations are that low.

Andrew Marr in presumably his last news interview with Gerry Adams concentrated on the past with the usual ritual questions about the great denial and “ have you got clean hands?”  ( No Andy, “ sobbed Gerry, ” I want to confess all”).   Statesmanlike on Brexit ( “ it must not be exploited”) and  on unity ( “ it is not inevitable; we must work for it”).  Praise for Jeremy Corbyn ( “a great PM for Britain, leaving Ireland out of it”).  But not a cheep on boycotting  Stormont (too tiresomely parochial for a star presenter and a retiring President)  and dealing with the past  (too complicated to explain to a restive audience just bursting to hear from Amber Rudd).

 

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