The British and Irish governments will today gauge the prospect of any early renewal of inter-party talks on flags, parades and dealing with the legacy of the Troubles.
Secretary of State Theresa Villiers is due to meet new Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan on his first visit to Northern Ireland. Flanagan has already made clear he wants the discussions to resume. The talks collapsed when the two main unionist parties withdrew from meetings following the Parades Commission verdict on the return leg of the July 12 Ardoyne parade.
The five main parties – DUP, Sinn Fein, Ulster Unionists, SDLP and Alliance – were involved in the meetings, which came more than six months after hothouse negotiations chaired by American diplomat Dr Richard Haass were shelved without agreement on New Year's Eve.
But the resumed talks fell apart after only 24 hours, with Sinn Fein accusing the DUP and UUP of walking into the room so that they could then walk out again.
On his appointment last week, Mr Flanagan said: "It's important the parties return to the table. I'm anxious to have face-to-face meetings with party leaders."