The only thing missing from the Parliament on the hill is tumbleweed blowing through its Great Hall – By Brian Rowan 

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There is little sign of political life – at best, the weakest of pulses.

The NEW Talks are an extension of the OLD Talks; the same parties inside the negotiations and other parties waiting around the fringes feeding on crumbs of information.

This is not an all-party negotiation, certainly not yet.

For now, it is about the DUP and Sinn Fein and the two governments.

There is radio silence as they grapple with the same issues; and, on the edges of those main talks, there is a thinking out and talking out about what might be happening and about what could happen next.

It is speculation, guesswork. Those on the fringes do not know what is going on inside the main talking tent.

Some think that in the absence of agreement there might yet be another Assembly election; even if its only purpose would be to buy some more time.

On Monday, in Stormont’s political ghost house, one unionist politician was even discussing the likely date for such an election, but let’s not get ahead of the politics of the here and now.

The time for these latest talks is meant to be short with some assessment expected by the early part of next week.

Writing elsewhere on this website the Sinn Fein National Chair Declan Kearney repeats there will be no return to the status quo.

We will know in a few days if progress is being made, but there is now a bigger challenge than just making an agreement.

How would you persuade a disinterested and disengaged audience that, this time, it is for real?

A year of farce of shambles and of pantomime, means the tumbleweed might be more believable.

There is a ‘who cares’ attitude out there, a political weariness and a looking away from Stormont.

This play on the hill has had too many parts.



About Author

I am a regular contributor to discussion programmes on TV and radio both at home and abroad. An experienced political editor and author specialising in Politics, Security and 20th Century Art.

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