So that’s it?
After a fortnight of work the so-called ‘Hillsborough Agreement’ (remember how great the last one was?) comprises twenty one pages and contains enough holes to sustain any number of mini-crises. We can only assume that this tacked together deal is underpinned by a network of behind the scenes arrangements between the DUP and Sinn Féin.
Which is precisely the reason why this type of set-piece has proved necessary in the first place.
With the UUP sitting out this morning’s proceedings, because the party had no input in the negotiations in the first place, the requirement of a functional executive is key to securing all-party support.
Ulster Unionist anxieties on this score will hardly be offset by a commitment to set-up a working group on ‘Improving Executive Function and Delivery’. Rather than undertaking to establish genuine coalition at Stormont, the DUP and Sinn Féin are handing the smaller parties an opportunity to talk about it.
And the working group and timetable established for parading isn’t a solution to that issue either. To be clear, I didn’t subscribe to the view that parades should hold up policing and justice talks to begin with, but clearly the symbolism of removing the Parades Commission has made the Dupes dizzy. There is no clear model here to put the matter to bed.
Underlying problems around the architecture and culture of power-sharing remain. Far from moving beyond the ’peace process’ we can resign ourselves to a politics based on peace-processing. I make my prediction now that the next impasse, the next mini-crisis, the next intervention from home and abroad will only be a matter of time.
With the two parties in charge who could predict otherwise.