Most Northern Irish parties need Stormont more than it needs them…

Where are we after the presidential elections and Brexit? And when can we expect a return to actual politics in Northern Ireland?

It’s difficult, not least because no one yet has an adequate response to question of why it collapsed in the first place (seriously, we don’t).

Karen Bradley’s briefing to the parties on Thursday suggests it won’t be before new year (when we should know what Brexit looks like).

As Jon Tonge noted on the Nolan Show on Thursday, with RHI and Brexit  to come neither the DUP nor SF will elect for a hard landing.

Despite the frustration of other party leaders, this is where we’ve been since the St Andrew’s pushed the other parties to the sidelines.

We’ll get Stormont back when these two are good and ready. In the meantime DUP’s Westminster power position gives them a story.

As for Sinn Fein, it is unlikely to want to return until the Brexit deal outcome (and whatever blame arises) is firmly attached to the DUP.

However, the Presidential election did not go as expected. If it did more damage to confidence than prospects, it was a tough lesson.

The next southern election will be a multi party dog fight. However, without SF ministers in NI, 25% of its vote went to a late wind protester.

The loss of two TDs over abortion lowers the number of sitting TDs ahead of the next general election, further dampens their prospects.

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are reviewing government performance against the confidence and supply agreement until Christmas.

But as the Taoiseach noted on Saturday, Micheal Martin’s pledge of support until Brexit means an election could be triggered after March.

Suddenly, perhaps with a Brexit deal done and dusted, going back into power sharing with the DUP doesn’t look quite such a bad thing?

RHI provokes echoes of the huckster’s shop, as Reg Empey once put it, where other parties are treated as a dupe to be perennially fleeced.

It is likely the Civil Service will take most of the flak, and the timetable set to avoid any untimely embarrassment to the DUP leader.

The first principle of comedy (and politics) is surprise. Lots of seemingly impossible things can happen, if there is political will.

Allison Morris pointed out on Slugger TV that with no money to hand out NI politicians had little incentive to return to work.

A crash out Brexit might be the surprise. Despite spin from London and Brussels, the two positions are presently incompatible.

But however meagre the opportunity, without Stormont SF has limited means to develop its political CV beyond being ferocious in opposition.

Not only does its southern game needs a boost but the DUP is  proactively gaining capital via whatever looks like a budget concession.

If there’s a sustainable deal coming that doesn’t ruin the island, there would seem to be few arguments against a resumption of local power.

In the meantime, the Secretary of State by empowering civil servants to do a politician’s job has rendered Stormont independent of politics.

Any political party worthy of the name should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time… It’s long past time they got started.

Whatever the outcome of Brexit!

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