That credibility spot upon which the Stormont parties and governments have been jogging for the past several months is getting smaller and is about to vanish.

Smaller in terms of belief and believability.

If all the watching and listening at Parliament Buildings and at Stormont House on Monday was in the hope of hearing something new; something that would fit with a deepening and depressing political crisis, then the parties and the governments failed that test.

This was a same-old day; predictable soundbites, more or less the same scripts, the playing out of a blame-game in a place that has run out of ideas.

Pretend politics in a pretend Parliament Buildings.



DUP leader Arlene Foster repeated her “common sense proposal” of last week; restoring the Executive immediately, putting ministers in post and working on legislation on culture and languages.

It was an old offer wrapped in new words; rejected not just by Sinn Fein but by others.

On Monday Nichola Mallon of the SDLP likened the idea of an Executive before an agreement to “building a castle on sand”.

The north Belfast MLA dismissed the idea as “absolutely ludicrous”.

Michelle O’Neill called for “a short, sharp, focused negotiation”.

What has been happening for the past eight months? What would be different now?

You either have a stand-alone Irish Language Act or you don’t.

You either have marriage equality or you don’t. The same applies to a Bill of Rights and a legacy process.

These issues have been talked to a standstill.



Indeed, Alliance MLA Stephen Farry believes the trenches got deeper over the summer months. His party is arguing for the appointment of an independent mediator to facilitate the talks.

Farry believes the trajectory is direct rule, but said this is not inevitable.

At Stormont House, Secretary of State James Brokenshire spoke of a window of opportunity that is closing rapidly.

That same window has been closing for months. Like everything else at Stormont it is stuck.

There is no good Plan B.

Closing the Assembly? Stopping salaries? Direct Rule?

If Humpty Dumpty falls off this Stormont wall once more, then it will take a very long time to put it back together again.

The next steps have to be agreed London and Dublin steps; two governments on the same page whatever that page may be.

It could still be another Assembly election. Brokenshire has not ruled out that possibility.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney will meet the parties on Tuesday.

We will listen again, but don’t hold your breath.

Just watch that ever shrinking jogging spot.

We seem to be waiting for the inevitable; decision-making taken out of the hands of those elected back in March.

A political failure that won’t easily be fixed.


  1. As we all know, recon­ciliation is not a on­e-way street. But yet­ Unionism is still to­ learn this lesson or­ take lead form their­ Queen and her olive ­branch acts in Dublin­ a number of years ba­ck.

    What is very evident­ many within politica­l Unionism see reconc­iliation as a weaknes­s. They see it as a c­limb down from princi­pals, but most of all­ Unionism is afraid o­f taking on the chall­enging questions that­ result from acts rec­onciliation.

    Most of all, a level­ playing field that h­as equality as a benc­hmark shakes them to ­their core.

    Since its inception U­nionism has been spoo­n fed the idea that i­ts superior and is en­titled to govern and ­make rules that suit ­them and enshrine the­ Union; that changed ­in 1998 with the Good­ Friday Agreement for­ the UUP, but not for­ the DUP.

    The DUP refused to ac­cept that Nationalism­ was growing and that­ they now have a say ­in moulding the futur­e of the North and th­e future of Ireland.

    When we peel back th­e layers of the of th­e DUP onion, what lay­s is mistrust and par­anoia. The mistrust s­tems from said entitl­ement culture and the­ paranoia a dark pass­enger created and nur­tured by successive B­ritish Governments; b­ut this
    nurturing has left a­ void at their core a­nd this void is ‘real­ity’.

    Arlene Foster inherit­ed a party that was w­elded to principals t­hat many within their­ framework see as fas­hioned by god and lai­d out in the bible. M­s Foster knows that t­o turn away from this­ would be political s­uicide, but the irony­ is, is that if she d­oesn’t dilute these p­rincipal’s modern soc­iety will begin to re­ject the DUP – not yo­ur typical DUP voters­ of old, but generati­ons to come and today­s millennials.

    The spotlight was sh­one on the DUPs antiq­uated beliefs when th­ey were fortunate to ­become a fulcrum with­in the Tory Governmen­t and become a loosel­y affiliated partner.­ The media in England­ had a field day over­ the DUPs rejection o­f equality of the LGB­T community and the d­ark Brexit money whic­h was then mixed in w­ith the RHI scandal; ­the British public la­mbasted them and they­ became a political j­oke – and remain so.

    When quarters of the­ British press and pu­blic questioned the D­UPs stance on equalit­y, they batted it awa­y as a non-issue; som­ething only a party w­ith an entitlement cu­lture would do. Who i­n the modern politica­l world uses discrimi­nation of a section o­f society as a badge ­of honour? All backed­ by the Tory party, o­nly because they need­ed them for sections ­of a deteriorating Br­exit bill.

    The DUP are now behin­d a blackball. Theres­a May is continually ­under pressure within­ her own party and wi­th the public. Societ­y in the North want a­n Executive, but not ­at any cost. National­ism and others are pu­shing for equality, a­nd the more grandstan­ding the DUP do, the ­more they are looked ­upon as backward in t­heir outlook on equal­ity, globally.

    The media have also g­iven the DUP an easy ­ride to date. Not one­ media organisation h­as asked the DUP abou­t their red line issu­es on equality. Not o­ne journalist has ask­ed Ms Foster et al wh­y they are holding ba­ck society, but many ­have asked nationalis­t parties if their re­d line issues on equa­lity are responsible ­for problems in healt­h and education; are ­the DUP infallible in­ some editorial circl­es?

    Reconciliation is a ­word that has now evo­lved into equality wi­thin our political pr­ocess. Equality and p­arity of esteem is wh­at is needed to move ­the North forward.

    Unfortunately, the DU­P are content with Br­exit money and sycoph­ants; ironically the ­DUP are holding their­ wee country back by ­not taking the lead f­rom the their Queen a­nd reaching out the o­live branch. Internat­ional pressure is jus­t around the corner, ­and the DUP won’t be ­able to hide behind T­heresa May for much l­onger. The DUP seem t­o be content on build­ing a future on sand.

  2. Rather than digging and with reference to John Hewitt: ‘surely there must be somewhere we could reach a solid track across our quagmire state, and on a neutral sod renew the old debate which all may join without intemperate speech’ – or is it simply bogged down in disdain, indifference and mistrust. Orange and green mixed together bizarrely makes a horrible brown. We need new colours and a different language.

  3. “The DUP refused to ac­cept that Nationalism­ was growing and that­ they now have a say ­in moulding the futur­e of the North and th­e future of Ireland.”

    The Nationalist vote as a percentage of the electorate is a tiny fraction under what it was in 1998 when it was 27%. The recent Nationalist Surge was only bringing them back to 1998 numbers and it was Arlene and not any SF/SDLP policy that motivated them.

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