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The talk is of another of those ‘pushes’ and of the two governments looking for some sort of outcome to the Stormont negotiations this week.

It may well be just some more of the same talk that has been a feature of these discussions throughout the past nine/ten weeks.

Deadlines in the politics of this place are two a penny.

This negotiation has been an initiative promoted by the British and Irish governments: in the words of one insider, they orchestrated it and they own it.

Have they a Plan?

As I write, there is not a deal on the table; not one that will fly.

If that is to change, then, I am told, that the negotiation this week will have to be qualitatively different from all of the talking that has gone before.

More of the same will leave this process at a dead end.

One source spoke of the need for somebody to make a play to unlock the “utter deadlock” on language and identity.

The discussion has been around three commissioners for Identity (including promoting Britishness), Irish Language and Ulster Scots.

It does not include a stand-alone Irish Language Act, and the above is being viewed as a unionist model.

If that is its shape, then it won’t fly.


This negotiation is also happening in the dark, with the unpredictability of Westminster politics and the likelihood of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.

What will that mean in terms of Brexit?

What might emerge from the Tory/DUP negotiation on Confidence and Supply Mark Two?

Will there be a move on legal protections for military veterans?

If so, what are the implications for the legacy process being designed here?

With a new Prime Minister, who will be Secretary of State?

A unionist source, speaking to this website, expects that Karen Bradley will say her goodbyes soon – “and her team will dissolve”.

There are so many – too many – imponderables.

The parties have been told of a possible roundtable meeting on Thursday – leaving the DUP and Sinn Fein space until then.

The focus/emphasis now is on this two-party negotiation – not the five-party talks.  

There are just a few days left, then the governments who called these talks will have a decision to make.

Up to now, there has been no suggestion of a Plan B.

This process might just have to wait to see how Boris and Brexit settle; wait for the Westminster legacy plan and wait for the RHI report.

Golf – The Open at Portrush – will be the story and focus of the next few days.

Politics is still in its bunker.

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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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