Newton Emerson: Stormont faces direct rule with Dublin input if talks fail again

Talks structure raises prospect that DUP and Sinn Féin red lines could be blurred

Sinn Féin’s Northern leader Michelle O’Neill and DUP leader Arlene Foster at the Conservative Party conference in late 2017. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Sinn Féin’s Northern leader Michelle O’Neill and DUP leader Arlene Foster at the Conservative Party conference in late 2017. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

So little hope had been placed in Stormont talks that the publication of their format this week was a startling surprise.

The format points to a serious, structured endeavour, at least compared with previous efforts since devolution collapsed 2½ years ago.

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