all is doomed / renewed hope. Choose your own adventure…

Did anyone else ever read those Choose Your Own Adventure books when they were a kid? If you want to walk down the dark passageway, turn to page 127.

Well, it seemed a bit like that at the moment. Depending on who you listen to, Stormont is doomed, or hope still remains. In the negative camp, Brian Rowan shared the exasperation shared by many:

Former Civil Service Head Honcho David Sterling is equally gloomy:

But in today’s BelTel, Suzanne Breen is in a more upbeat mood:

Optimism is increasing across the political divide that Sir Jeffrey Donaldson will lead his party back into the Stormont Executive within the next fortnight.
With speculation that Edwin Poots — a key member of the powerful party officer board — could be persuaded to back the deal to restore devolution, hopes are rising in DUP and Government circles that devolution will be restored.

The Secretary of State had been expected to this week extend the deadline for forming a new Executive until next year. However, Chris Heaton-Harris announced on Tuesday that the new deadline would be February 8.

Government sources are hopeful that Sir Jeffrey will finally put a deal to a vote by party officers, be successful, and have a new power-sharing administration up and running in a fortnight.

One insider said: “Nothing in Northern Ireland should ever be taken for granted but we are cautiously optimistic that it’s doable.”

Sir Jeffrey already has the support of five party officers: himself, DUP deputy leader Gavin Robinson and MLAs Emma Little-Pengelly, Gordon Lyons and Diane Forsythe.

Sources predict East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell and South Belfast MLA Edwin Poots are now minded to back a deal.

A DUP source said a 7-5 majority “wouldn’t be ideal for Jeffrey” but, at this stage, he would be prepared to run with it.

East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson, Lord Dodds, party chair Lord Morrow and Strangford MLA Michelle McIlveen are said to remain firmly opposed to a deal.

There are conflicting reports about how Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart, who is on the pragmatic wing of the party but represents a hardline constituency, would vote.

Sir Jeffrey was this evening said to be briefing his MPs and peers at Westminster, some of whom are fiercely against the deal on the table.

Admit all the noise I find some of the remarks from some Unionist quarters very interesting. DUP founding member Wallace Thompson seemed to be in a pragmatic/defeatist mood (again choose your own interpretation):

Meanwhile the ‘good twin’ Kyle Paisley points out the destructive nature of Brexit:

If you believe Stormont will be restored, turn to page 62.

If you believe Stormont is finished turn to page 146.

The future is in your hands. Or not…


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