“Keep your ears open” – By Brian Rowan

That advice late on Thursday night was the first guidance to reach me​ that the Stormont negotiation is in a better place.

Does that mean a done deal?

The guidance/advice stops short of that.

There is still the talk of “significant gaps” but also a view that perhaps more progress has been made than is being publicly declared.

Friday’s planned all-party meeting here on the political hill did not happen. The DUP and Sinn Fein absent and the two governments left to explain to the SDLP, Ulster Unionists and Alliance.

It brought a terse response from a UUP source: “The DUP and Sinn Fein are running the show and the two governments are bystanders ”

If there is to be a deal, then the sequence is obvious. A two-party agreement first and only if that is achieved will its detail be shared with others.

The DUP and Sinn Fein don’t need the others until/unless this negotiation arrives at the point of a discussion on an all-inclusive Executive.

What am I being told?

That within the talks there is a different focused approach.

The negotiation is described as serious.

Progress is being made, with one source​ commenting: “If there’s any time for a deal in the next short while, it’s now.”

The caution relates to some significant gaps – yet to be resolved.

The Westminster recess through to February 20th is seen as the endgame – the period within which a deal must be done.

We also know​ that deadlines here are always stretched.

The mood and substance of these talks have changed. Will it mean a deal?

There is not that certainty, but our ears are open.


2 thoughts on ““Keep your ears open” – By Brian Rowan

  1. Perhaps after Gerry Adams stands down today as Sinn Féin president there will be less of a red rag for the DUP to get angry about and some progress may be timely.

    There will still be huge differences and positions between the political camps but if the process is not inclusive of all the parties, will that mean that political inclusivity in the new Assembly will be but lip service?

    But then again, given the sordid political culture we live in, this might be the only mechanism of moving forward we have from the current impasse to some form of working Assembly.

    The brinkmanship and secrecy is going to the wire but would you expect anything else in this country. If we have problems of governance at the moment, can you imagine what the Dail would be like in a united Ireland with a DUP/unionist contingent? It would be quite chaotic I imagine. But would make great live TV.

    Basically I don’t think the parties are agreeing, but will struggle with a form of words and small concessions to get a deal done. They will paint over the cracks and wordsmiths will have their day… until the next blow up.

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