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It was always going to be a day of spin on the Stormont hill.

The governments have the parties inside a room and want to keep them there.

So, the talking will continue through June. Indeed, it will intensify.

Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann spoke of the “mood music” being “a lot better”.

Can we expect a July agreement with the issues of an Irish language Act and marriage equality settled?

Answers on a postcard.

For a few weeks now, the talking has been inside a number of working groups.

DUP leader Arlene Foster described this as  “useful preparatory work” for this next phase of the talking.

Above, read some of the questions they have been asking inside the working group on rights, language and identity. 

This is an extract from a document obtained by this website.

We have been down this road before – many times before.

Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald spoke of “broken promises” that delivered “broken politics”.

So, it is difficult to imagine a new government on the political hill without clarity and certainty on a number of key issues.

On Thursday, Secretary of State Karen Bradley performed another of her speak and run acts. A few words after a meeting with party leaders, but no time – or no confidence – to stand and take questions.

Tanaiste Simon Coveney did have both the time and the confidence to engage with journalists. He spoke of “awkward issues” to be overcome – a challenge that is not insurmountable, and, in his words, the work now is to try to turn these discussions into a series of decisions.

This is the hard bit. There will be no hiding place inside working groups when the big calls have to be made. 

The biggest calls will be on those issues under the heading of rights, language and identity.

Can the DUP deliver what they could not in February last year?

Then there are the questions on RHI, Brexit, Legacy and the political mess that is Westminster.

There will be another negotiation there involving the Tories and the DUP.

Those inside these Stormont talks will  watch all of that very closely.

With that going on, can they make an agreement here before July arrives? 

Again, answers on a postcard.

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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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