The News Letter reports that Alasdair McDonnell has proposed an Assembly ‘link up’ between the SDLP, UUP and Alliance.
In reality there is nothing particularly new in the story. McDonnell, whose SDLP leadership battle with Margaret Ritchie is well advanced, is simply proposing talks between the three parties, in order to examine whether there is enough common ground to allow cooperation.
Ritchie has actually travelled further down this road than McDonnell, having developed a close working relationship with Ulster Unionist colleagues in the Executive.
The story certainly emphasises the fact that, effectively, the interests of the UUP and SDLP often collide at Stormont. It makes sense to coordinate efforts to oppose a sectarian carve-up which has marginalised moderate voices.
Sinn Féin strenuously opposes the notion that voluntary coalition represents the future for the Northern Ireland Assembly. However political realities could soon overtake the institutional arrangements which prevail at Stormont.
The three moderate parties should certainly redouble attempts to coordinate their opposition to the DUP / Sinn Féin carve-up coalition.