The DUP and Sinn Fein have been accused of "cynical games" amid attempts to revive the Stormont talks to restore devolution.
Alliance deputy leader Stephen Farry claimed there is little momentum or structure to the negotiations and a shortage of ideas.
"The DUP and Sinn Fein need to prove they are genuine about wanting to see the political institutions restored," he said.
His attack came as Secretary of State James Brokenshire attempted to arrange private meetings with the two main parties.
Resumed talks are not expected until next week at the earliest.
Mr Farry said: "The DUP and Sinn Fein are playing cynical games, talking about their commitment to talks and devolution while their actions belie these rhetorical commitments.
"DUP MPs are now increasingly demanding direct rule and relying on the influence they have with the Conservative government to manage Northern Ireland through the back door.
"Sinn Fein seemingly continue to ride two horses, keeping open the options of pursuing their wider, and legitimate, constitutional aspirations, through Northern Ireland becoming perceived as a failed state under Tory rule and hard Brexit chaos."
He said little effort is being made to find any cross-community consensus on what special status under Brexit may mean.
"This week should be a time when we see efforts to restore devolution re-energised," Mr Farry added.
"We should not even be in this position to begin with but yet there seems to be little engagement, structure, never mind momentum in the talks process, plus a shortage of ideas."