They got a new talks timetable on the political hill today – pointing to the latest of the many Brokenshire deadlines.
It means the pretend Parliament now has a little more time to get real; the weeks beginning October 30 (for legislation) and November 6 (for a new Executive) the new and latest timetable dates.
Will it make any difference in a talks process that at times gives the impression of not knowing its arse from its elbow?
In recent days, this negotiation has been talked up and down.
How last week can a deal have been so close, only to be as far away in the latest assessments given in Dublin and London?
The reading and misreading of different tea leaves in different cups has been the story of the past few days.
Signals being sent by the governments – the kite flying – did not fit with the little being said by the DUP and Sinn Fein.
Going into last weekend, neither of those parties was suggesting that a deal was imminent.
Then today (Wednesday) came the suggestion that Michelle O’Neill was ready to do a deal but was overruled.
At Stormont and in the Dail this was dismissed by both the party’s Northern leader Ms O’Neill and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams.
“I have no deal or recommendation to put to an Ard Comhairle,” Ms O’Neill said.
Nothing has been said by republicans in recent weeks to suggest a deal on the key issues that are at the heart of these talks.
On one of those issues – Irish language – it was made clear on Wednesday that “nothing short of that [a stand-alone Act]” will break the deadlock in these negotiations.
On the possibility of a hybrid or composite languages bill, a republican source said:”We have told them that wouldn’t fly.”
Talks are continuing on how to address the issue of marriage equality and on other matters including legacy.
These are the “significant gaps”, which prompted the same republican source to say: “We are not anywhere near a proposition to bring to the party.”
That same source also raised concerns about the credibility of these talks – now stretching beyond nine months without agreement and with no functioning Executive.
“Credibility seeps from the process the longer it goes on,” he said.
Sinn Fein has said there will be no return to the status quo; this the position repeatedly stated since the resignation of the late Martin McGuinness as deputy first minister back in January.
For how much longer can these seemingly endless talks continue before being called the status quo?
Talking, if all it is doing is propping up the pretend politics on the hill, leaves this process and project open to ridicule.
If not deal time – it is decision time.
Will Stormont stand or fall?
As Christmas approaches, this pantomime has become a farce.
We hear a deal can be done quickly if there is the political will. That thought has become a broken record.
The needle stuck in the Stormont player.
If no deal within this latest timetable, then they should call it a day.