“STORMONT: “F***** For the Foreseeable Future” – By Brian Rowan 

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It is the bluntest of comments – a political quote delivered without frills; a five-word Stormont obituary to fit the here and now.

The words are part of the fallout from a tortuous negotiation that some believe got very close to a deal a week or so ago.

A week is a long time in politics – and too long in the politics of this place.

What seemed so close, now seems every bit as far away.

Just read Arlene Foster’s statement on Monday afternoon.





The DUP leader was with senior colleagues at Stormont on Monday. Nigel Dodds was in the building, Maurice Morrow, Diane Dodds, William McCrea and others.

Also in the building Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O’Neill and negotiator Conor Murphy were meeting with parties who have been on the fringes of these talks.

“If this is getting done, it’s getting done by the British and Irish,” a Stormont source commented –  meaning there is little or no prospect of resurrecting the DUP/Sinn Fein talks.



The focus now switches to the governments; not just left with the Stormont mess, but part of it; and for this reason.

What is emerging from the detail of this negotiation?

The answer is the usual – convoluted word plays, side deals and different interpretations of what was on the table.

Too clever by half.

Those side arrangements seem to be on legacy matters and the Military Covenant.

One emerging from a Sinn Fein/NIO discussion – the other a DUP/NIO discussion.

Then there are the three pillars of – Irish Language, Ulster Scots and Respecting Language & Diversity – those pillars seemingly not wide enough to hide the stand-alone or separate nature of the three.

In this you find the straw that broke the back of these talks – the DUP unable to make the deal and, now, there are choices – none of them good.

An election if only to buy time.

Direct rule.

A London/Dublin arrangement shaped in a British-Irish intergovernmental conference.

May, Varadkar, Bradley and Coveney are left to do that working out.

If there is to be another negotiation then a number of things are clear.

Neither government should be in the chair. They are players not facilitators.

An outside mediator is needed, and they need to strip the ambiguity and confusion out of the text.

A paper trail may yet emerge on these talks.

It depends how much of the detail is denied or disputed.

After 13 months and all that was discussed and then discussed again and again, how did they arrive at this monumental cock-up?

Cold feet? Last minute panic?

Stormont “f***** for the foreseeable future” – a frank but, it seems, a fair assessment.

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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 www.merrionpress.ie


  1. Excellent piece of investigative journalism Eamonn and Brian excellent example of the adage if you want the fruit to grow you must prepare the ground not poison it but with the heavy lifting done then no need to reinvent the wheel. It requires work on the ground to ask if this was the deal what is wrong with it?

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