Northern Ireland civil servants had been confident of deal
Senior civil servants were so confident the Assembly would be restored that they met last Monday to discuss how to liaise with new Stormont ministers, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
It is understood David Sterling, head of the NI Civil Service, instructed high-ranking officials to brief staff on expected developments.
An insider also said that, with Prime Minister Theresa May and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Belfast that same day to oversee a deal between the DUP and Sinn Fein, workers were readying their offices in anticipation of getting back to normal business. The following day, however - when it was obvious the talks had stalled - senior staff were called back to be told that a state of high alert was no longer necessary.
It's also understood that civil servants working on the Programme for Government - the Executive's action plan - received emails on Friday, February 9 telling them to prepare a briefing for incoming ministers at Parliament Buildings.