Dangerous waters

Published Friday, 04 July 2014
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It was really no surprise when the Unionist parties walked out of the Stormont talks.

It was hard to detect any real expectation in the DUP and UUP of progress being made on parades, flags and the past.

Sure, there is an acceptance the issues are not going away, but the weeks leading up to the Twelfth of July are not the time when there is an expectation of progress.

And it was left to the Parades Commission to deliver the judgement on the Ardoyne parade which has led to a serious political situation, threatening the future of the institutions.

The decision of the Unionists to pull out of the North South meeting planned for Dublin has annoyed Sinn Fein, which considers the NSMC an essential part of the Good Friday Agreement.

Other actions will follow in the coming days, according to the Unionist leaders.

The end result is a political mess.

In London and Dublin, it has surely dawned on the respective governments, they have a considerable problem.

So far the two administrations have maintained it is better for the local politicians to sort out difficulties.

But can they?

There is an increasing number of political players who believe the government cannot sit in the grandstand and chew gum.

Sinn Fein and the SDLP both believe it is now time for the governments to honour their obligations under the GFA.

Some in London and Dublin will argue that if they become too involved it will be difficult to get out.

But if matters continue to deteriorate, they could well be left with little option.

Admittedly with a Westminster election now less than a year away and Dail vote in 2016, it is all rather distracting.

There is also the added complication of David Cameron's relationship with the DUP. Nine or ten House of Commons votes could well prove crucial in a hung parliament.

In Dublin, Sinn Fein could be on the cusp of entering government.

Maybe the priority will be keeping Stormont up and running even without progress on so many outstanding issues.

History shows when Stormont falls, it is very difficult to get back

The hope is the Twelfth passes off peacefully and the parties get back around the table as soon as possible.

There are important matters of health, education and jobs to discuss, not to mention welfare reform.

And old political heads will tell you, a political crisis can get out of control quickly.

As they say ''events dear boy, events''.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
john in Antrim wrote (200 days ago):
How can progress be made when the OO is openly setting the Unionist agenda Ken? The Parties will NEVER be able to move on until this interference ceases. That means never. The OO is clear that marching through an area where it is not wanted, is more important than the shared governance of ALL the people of the North. They are childish and only out for their own ends. As I said before, the Unionists ( OO ) mean ; peace, but on our terms.
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Ken Reid
Ken Reid

Ken Reid is Political Editor at UTV. His career as a journalist began at The News Letter in 1977, where he remained for seven years. This was followed by stints as the sports editor, and later editor, of the Sunday News, and reporting for the Cork Examiner.

Ken joined UTV in 1994. He says one of his most memorable moments was breaking the Ian Paisley retirement story in 2008.

He's a big fan of rugby (Ballymena to be precise), cricket and football (Everton FC) and loves music, especially blues.

His favourite motto is Everton FC's: "Nil satis nisi optimum"... Only the best is good enough.

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