Belfast Telegraph

Stalemate really isn't on London's agenda now

By Suzanne Breen

There's still 48 hours to go but it looks like our two big parties are no longer truly trying to reach a deal at Stormont.

This seems about the blame game now with Sinn Fein and the DUP seeking to pin responsibility for yet another failure on each other.

The DUP knows it tends to carry the can when crisis hits Stormont, so Edwin Poots is making an enormous effort to sound reasonable and restrained when he faces the cameras to explain what's happening.

The line touted is that while SF focuses on the more ideological issue of the Irish language, the DUP wants to get back to work tackling what impacts on most people's lives: health, jobs and education. That will resonate with the unionist community, but few nationalists will be convinced. A stand-alone Irish Language Act isn't just a SF demand - it's also backed by the SDLP and Dublin government.

Sinn Fein's narrative that the DUP is stuck in the past - refusing progressive measures for nationalists, gays, and other minorities - will resonate in a community which now distrusts Arlene Foster. The Shinners' appeal for the Prime Minister and Taoiseach to join the talks will go nowhere. Only a major security threat would put Belfast on London's agenda these days.

Given the other pressures Theresa May is under, Stormont stalemate doesn't figure. And the Shinners have spent the past week lambasting Mrs May for her "grubby deal" with the DUP. The Fine Gael government aren't natural allies of SF either. So there was something peculiar about a republican party calling for the Brits and Blueshirts to be brought in to help out.

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