Published Wednesday, 07 March 2012
Currently there are two conflicting theories on what is going on.
One version has it that the lack activity is only an illusion.
According to this interpretation it's a bit like ducks swimming on a pond. Little visible evidence of effort on the surface while underneath the water the birds are paddling furiously.
According to that interpretation, officials on behalf of the Treasury and the Executive are busy working out how a devolved system of corporation tax would work and just as importantly what the bill would be for Northern Ireland in terms of a cut to the annual Block Grant from Westminster.
Wednesday's meeting in London of the joint Ministerial Group, while it might not produce any major headlines, is part of that process.
The contrary argument is that if it looks that not much is happening, that is because not much is happening.
A paralysis at Westminster has been induced by the demands from the Scottish Nationalists for control over corporation tax as part of their attempt to secure a greater degree of devolution/independence/ from the rest of the UK.
While it might be possible to cede responsibility to Northern Ireland for corporation tax, giving that option to Scotland is a step too far for the Tories. Until the issue is resolved one way or the other not much progress will be made on the move to give the same power to Northern Ireland.
Which theory is correct? Hard to say from the outside. What I think is that today's developments won't provide us with a clear answer to that question.