By noon on Friday the Northern Ireland Office will have published a long overdue report on its legacy consultation – a document that will be structured around the seventeen questions asked more than a year ago in May 2018.
That consultation was about the proposed structure to address the past; a new Historical Investigations Unit (HIU), an Independent Commission on Information Retrieval (ICIR), an Oral History Archive and reconciliation element.
Together, they are what is known as the Stormont House Agreement of 2014, which has since become a disagreement.
Friday’s report of a few dozen pages will distil the responses to the consultation, but options papers to address the issues raised will not be published at this stage, nor will planned legacy committees be established in London and Belfast to consider next steps.
In terms of what was being planned some weeks back, this announcement will not be as detailed or as ambitious.
On Thursday, the political parties read the report under embargo. Other briefings will happen on Friday before noon publication.
We already know some of the concerns about the proposed structure to address the conflict period; and if those concerns are eventually addressed, then there will be a much bigger caseload for the Historical Investigations Unit.
Some way will also have to be found to better soundproof information given privately to the Independent Commission on Information Retrieval. This to ensure that information cannot be used in prosecutions.
Then there is the push for legal protections for military veterans; not part of the consultation here – and not part of the Stormont House Agreement – but if introduced at any stage will bring the question and the issue of amnesty into the headlines.
There will be a long way to travel from Friday’s published report to actually achieving a legacy process.
The intention had been to keep this issue of the past away from the political talks. It will now become part of that conversation and negotiation.
The legacy container is about to be opened.
As for the Stormont Talks, there was another leaders’ meeting with the governments on Thursday.
The big issues – including rights, language and identity – are still in trenches; part of arguments not agreements.
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood wants the governments to urgently publish their version of a possible agreement – this to challenge the parties.
Alliance negotiator Stephen Farry spoke of a process losing – not gaining – momentum.
No one has thrown the towel in, but there are concerns that an opportunity has been missed.
There is talk that another effort to get a deal will be made immediately after the twelfth.
We all know the issues that need to be resolved: “They’ve talked these things to death,” one insider commented.
A deal, if it is to be done will require political will and leadership.
Autumn is not far away when Brexit and RHI and Legacy and Boris will make things even more difficult.