NO DEAL HERE… By Brian Rowan

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On Monday at Stormont, Sinn Fein declared this long phase of negotiations over.

There is no deal here, and there should be no more pretend politics in this place.

May, Varadkar, Brokenshire and Coveney have big calls to make.

It is London-Dublin decision time; the test of the worth of the paper upon which the Good Friday Agreement is written.

On Monday Sinn Fein’s leader in the north Michelle O’Neill said “the denial of rights would not be tolerated in Dublin and London and should not be tolerated here”.

What has been obvious for months is that there will be no Stormont Executive and no First Minister if there is no Irish Language Act; if the issue of marriage equality is not addressed; if there is not some agreed approach on the vexed legacy questions. The past is becoming a bigger argument.

No Executive, no fully-functioning Policing Board, the play for a statute of limitations for the armed forces – these things have ripped the threads out of the so-called Stormont House Agreement.

Have made it even more of a disagreement.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the DUP/SInn Fein negotiation in “a secret room” had delivered absolutely nothing.

What is needed now, he said, is “a strong Irish dimension…joint authority”.

Stephen Farry of Alliance spoke of “a slippery slope to full and formal direct rule”.

A budget bill at Westminster – however it is dressed up – is a million miles away from devolution in Belfast.

Without a deal, Stormont is finished – or should be.

London and Dublin need to stop pretending. This is now their business.

It is back to that comment from Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney that there can be no British-only direct rule.

Brexit and the RHI Inquiry are now big pieces within this frame; all part of the Stormont mess.

A deal would have been difficult enough without having to clear these hurdles.

The pretend Parliament at Stormont  cannot be about protecting MLA titles and salaries. There have been months of that already.

Perhaps May and Brokenshire can’t make a decision; hamstrung by the Tory-DUP Westminster arrangement.

We will know soon enough and, in the waiting, we listen out for Dublin.

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About Author

Brian Rowan

Brian Rowan is a journalist/author. A former BBC correspondent in Belfast, four times he has been a category winner in the Northern Ireland Press and Broadcast Awards. He is the author of several books on the peace process. His latest book (published by Merrion Press) POLITICAL PURGATORY – the battle to save Stormont and the play for a New Ireland is now available at

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