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In this place we’ve heard it all before – the familiar word plays that follow the negotiation.

Clarification, explanation, interpretation, side letters, best endeavours and target dates.

The process here has stretched and exhausted the dictionary when it comes to all of this.

So, what are we watching? The bolloxology phase of Brexit – a desperate, final effort to end the Tory civil war at Westminister and to cling to that confidence and supply agreement with the DUP.



Yes, of course, there is always space for those bits and pieces of clarification or understanding – but the deal is the deal.

Think again about our process – the decommissioning section of the Good Friday Agreement and all of the interpretation associated with it; the political and governmental spin about best efforts and using influence to achieve complete decommissioning within two years of the referendums north and south.

It was meant to make us dizzy; but, when our heads settled, nothing had changed.

How long did the process really take?

Clarification can be a kind of medicine designed to give comfort.

In the real world, Europe is looking at a British Prime Minister who has lost the confidence of over a third of her party’s MPs and with that propping up agreement with the DUP hanging by a thread.

Think again about our situation. The Politics of Stormont gridlocked for the best part of two years and the DUP leader unable to sell the draft agreement of February.

Negotiations only work when there are leaders who can deliver.

It will take more than clarification to mend what’s broken here and in London.


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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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