Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: It's now or never for Executive

The Prime Minister David Cameron is undoubtedly correct when he says that the credibility of the devolved administration at Stormont is on the line at the inter-party talks, which he will join today along with the Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

These are make or break days for local politicians and it is obvious that the British and Irish governments are desperate for the talks to succeed. The Taoiseach has already suggested that a £400m investment on the A5 road between Aughnacloy and Londonderry could be resurrected.

And the Westminster Government is prepared to devolve corporation tax-varying powers to Northern Ireland - a move which will not earn it any friends in other regions of the UK - if the parties here can get their act together.

On a positive note, there appears to be intense negotiations on how to deal with the past and hope, if not confidence, that some agreement can be found on that issue. But the unionists have hoisted themselves on a hook over parades, leading to a fall-out among the coalition of unionist parties, and that is a more problematic issue.

The financial discussions are also fraught with difficulty - and they hold the key to success. Can the parties find some way round the impasse on welfare reform and the crippling fines which ensue from failure to reach agreement?

The local parties have the undivided attention of the most powerful political figures on these islands - and also the US administration - so now must really make a determined effort to resolve their differences.

As the Christmas deadline approaches - the general election next year means deals have to be done now or possibly never - the fervent hope is that the two Prime Ministers can make the parties realise the full implications of failure.

Many people will be looking to Mr Cameron to bring the province its longed for Christmas present with some positive news from the talks. There has been a plethora of depressing, repetitive posturing coming out of Stormont for months now and people desperately want to approach 2015 with hope in their hearts.

They realise that these are still austere times but they want the political parties to work cohesively and coherently towards solving the economic problems rather than continuing to contribute to those problems.

Belfast Telegraph

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