Published Monday, 09 September 2013
Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness will want to touch base with the American before he touches down in Belfast next week. No doubt for his part, Mr Haass will want reassurance that both politicians are committed to finding a way forward in the negotiations.
One glimmer of hope is that no matter what is said during tonight's crunch meeting - or at what volume - the very next day, both men will present a united front as they schmooze America's great and good.
Importantly, both men are pragmatic enough to know that no matter how rocky their relationship may be at times, government will continue. The institutions are not under threat.
Sound-proofing is not a standard feature of New York hotel rooms, but those with rooms close to Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness might be forgiven for wishing it was. The First and deputy First Ministers are to hold their first meeting since the summer holidays this evening. Martin McGuinness will be travelling from Northern Ireland. Peter Robinson will be flying in from Florida where he's been on vacation.
Both men are due to take part in a three-day trip to the Big Apple, where they'll be meeting with existing and potential American investors. The event was organised months ago, but a lot has happened since then.
As a result, perhaps the most important meeting the two men will have will be their own.
It will be the first time the two men will have spoken since Peter Robinson dramatically pulled DUP support for the Peace Centre at the Maze in that now infamous letter from America.
The political fall-out has been immense, with unionist rivals accusing him of a monumental u-turn and a humiliating climb-down. It even led to media speculation that Peter Robinson's days as DUP leader were numbered.
Nationalists were also angry, accusing Mr Robinson of pandering to the hardliners including those within his own party. But the most furious reaction came from the DUP's partners in government. Sinn Féin were incensed. They accused Mr Robinson of poor leadership. Mr McGuinness described it as a "mistake".
So where to now?
That's the question the First and deputy First Ministers must now thrash out - beginning with their meeting in New York.
Only Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness and their two senior advisers will be present. No doubt words like "full and frank" and "robust" will be used to describe the discussion. But, while the meeting may have the feeling of a showdown, both men are pragmatic politicians and know that once the shouting is over, the business of government will go on.
They also know that neither can walk away from the other. The nature of our devolved government means they must work together. As a Stormont insider said, the Office of the First and deputy First Minister is like a three-legged race with both politicians tied together. If one falls - both fall.
The biggest difficulty facing Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness will be rebuilding their working relationship. Sinn Féin sources have repeatedly made clear that the greatest damage caused by the Maze decision was the fundamental loss of trust.
That could prove tricky when the two leaders return to Stormont next week.
Their in-tray is full. On the agenda is Welfare Reform, implementation of the Shared Future strategy and, of course, three months of cross-party talks chaired by the American diplomat Richard Haass.
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