We could be heading for a November election. Apparently, behind the scenes Sinn Féin have told the DUP that the current impasse must be resolved in the next three weeks or they will bring the whole Assembly crashing down. This apparent ‘deadline’ is just another part of the wheeling and dealing, posturing and posing we have all become to familiar with. There is an increasing sense, however, that we might be heading for a(nother) ‘crisis’.
Sinn Féin may well be reflecting today that in light of the UK’s financial woes that Northern Ireland is not going to move any higher up Gordon Brown’s agenda for the next few months or even years. A collapse at this time might just prove terminal. At the very least, ‘the process’ might be put in to the ‘deep freeze’ until after the General Election.
Assembly members should also being getting concerned about their standing with the general public. Generally, the public seem to be irritated by the failure of the Executive to meet and believe the Assembly is not doing any work. The danger must be that increasing numbers of the public will decide that devolution is simply not workable. The combination of self inflicted political stagnation coupled with an economic situation that emphasises the local politicians relative impotence could be a dangerous mix.