It is staggering how political deadlines get repeatedly blown in Northern Ireland, while the people plough on with their daily business. The last few years of "conditions" set by the UUP, followed by blown deadlines, have been a bit like "Groundhog Day".
In response to ratcheted demands from the UUP, Sinn Fein have got the IRA to put their weapons verifiably beyond use. Then the IRA declared the war is over. Then Sinn Fein passed a motion to support the Northern Ireland police service for the first time in its history.
But still Ian Paisley does not appear to be happy and wants Sinn Fein to "declare themselves for democracy". Hello? Haven't they just fought an election? Crikey! Another condition!
As we move towards March 26th, the question: "How much of a deadline is this deadline?"
As Dennis Murray of the BBC commented, Peter Hain has "made a career" out of saying that the March 26th deadline is "immovable".
However, the consensus seems to be that the deadline will be stretched again. Slugger O'Toole comments:
Senior Sinn Fein sources believe the DUP will bust the March 26 deadline.“We won’t like it,” one senior Sinn Fein figure said, “but we can live with it.”
As commented also by Slugger O'Toole, the Prime Ministers keep saying that a clear signal has been given by the electorate that they want the politicians to work together. However, is it really that clear? The electorate have voted in the most numbers for the two parties at the opposite ends of the extreme.
I hope the Prime Ministers are right. They seem to be supported by a poll on BBC local radio hosted by Stephen Nolan when 83 per cent of respondents called for politicians to enter government together without further negotiations.
It appears that filthy lucre is entering the equation, vis: a possible 1 Billion quid grant to the province from Gordie Brown. For once Sinn Fein and the UUP are in total agreement that they want this money, so perhaps, at last, the prospect of this pot of gold will at last bring the two old adversaries into government with each other.