The above thought is the polite way of describing these talks at the Castle.

Unless there is some dramatic development in the hours ahead, then another deadline will fall and these negotiations will fail.

We are not at that point just yet, but we are very close.



Secretary of State James Brokenshire had a few words to say to the media yesterday afternoon; his usual ‘not saying very much’ words that go in one ear and out the other.

They tell us nothing other than the obvious.

The real assessment came in the commentary of Declan Kearney and then Edwin Poots.

As we listened, so we were directed to the continuing stand-off and stalemate within this negotiation.

The DUP has not moved to a stand-alone Irish Language Act, reform of the petition of concern or a Bill of Rights; these things the minimum requirement if the republican leadership is to make an argument for the restoration of the political institutions.



Poots encouraged Sinn Fein “to come back from the brink”.

His party with close to 300,000 votes in the General Election and after the London deal with the Tories, is in a much better place.

There are smiles – a spring in the step.

There is also the unfinished work of this Stormont negotiation.

Why, some ask, does there have to be this free-standing Acht na Gaeilge.

The answer is found in the words “curry my yoghurt”, in the reference to crocodiles and in the withdrawal of the Liofa funding, which was later restored.

It seems there won’t be an agreement if there is not this stand-alone act. The SDLP leader Colum Eastwood is as adamant as Sinn Fein on this issue.

The Kearney-Poots commentary came as no surprise.

Earlier there had been a leaders’ meeting at which there was nothing to report; nothing happening between the big two parties on the outstanding issues that would represent progress and an opportunity to bring the SDLP, UUP and Alliance back into the centre of this negotiation in some march to a Coalition Agreement.

Instead, one talks insider was thinking about other possible pathways – what direction all of this might take if another deadline is breached.



The talking that continued late last night has not changed or moved the assessment given by Declan Kearney those several hours earlier.

So, the time to find some way through is reduced to Wednesday into Thursday.

Another soft landing?

“I don’t think there’s anything gentle about this,” one insider commented.

“Either there’s an agreement or not an agreement. I don’t know how you soften that.”




At the Castle, the media is listening in and analysing every word and silence.

What does it all mean?

This website has been reporting that in the event of “a good agreement” as republicans would view it, the question of Arlene Foster as First Minister could be resolved.

There was a hint of this in Declan Kearney’s words on Tuesday, but not before the ducks are lined up. In other words, the agreement and detail and implementation certainty must come firstly.

There is no sign of those ducks, but rather this talk of deep doo-doo.

Wednesday is another day after many other long days.


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