If Stormont cannot get its act together, the British and Irish governments should consider discussing arrangements regardless.  Photograph:  Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

A sustainable administration must look to east-west and north-south partnerships

Bill Clinton and Tony Blair at Queen’s University on Tuesday, “signalling they were not there to cry over the agreement’s corpse”. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Belfast Agreement anniversary celebration a useful reminder of bigger picture

In her Easter oration, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald “delivered boilerplate full of the usual platitudes on welcoming unionists into a united Ireland”. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Plea to ‘think the unthinkable’ but no original thoughts so far

 Jim Allister: he has been trying to raise the alarm about some “small print” in  the EU-UK draft Withdrawal Agreement

Text contains provision to add six areas of North-South co-operation to 12 in Belfast Agreement

Tánaiste Simon Coveney: Everything in his Dáil statement during leader’s questions was a perfectly reasonable and scrupulously correct, apart from the reference to a budget, which was an extraordinary mistake. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Tánaiste overstated role it gives Dublin in affairs of the North, with predictable consequences

Northern Secretary Karen Bradley: she  announced that the British government would consider “different arrangements” to devolution until an executive is restored.  Photograph: EPA/Andy Rain

Bradley’s Commons statement unilaterally puts the agreement up for casual renegotiation

Arlene Foster: in her persistence in her denial of a deal with Sinn Féin she has all the gravitas of an angry rabbit in the headlights

DUP leader’s strangulated denials of the deal that never was have descended into farce

DUP leader Arlene Foster: DUP has focused on technical aspects of the Border, missing the point the EU’s tactics have relegated this topic to mere quibbling. Photograph:  Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Newton Emerson: Party looks impotent on its constituents’ defining concern

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar  addresses the media with Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney  after the collapse of the latest Northern talks. A  pointed comparison must be made between their approach and that of Bertie Ahern. Photograph: Paul Faith/Getty Images

Former leaders Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair showed how co-operation should work

DUP leader Arlene Foster with deputy leader Nigel Dodds: Republicans who imagine Ms Foster pitted against Mr Dodds are like unionists who hoped for rows between Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty

Newton Emerson: Talk of DUP Stormont and Westminster divide is too simplistic

 DUP leader Arlene Foster arrives at Stormont earlier this month.  This week the party held its first official meeting with campaigners for same-sex marriage. It praised the meeting as “useful”  but it did not alter its opposition one iota.  File photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

‘Backward’ Republic of Ireland becoming more progressive than conservative North

Belfast’s Westlink dual carriageway. “A motorway between Belfast and Derry might have a weak financial case but as a way to knit Northern Ireland together it would have been unsurpassed.”

Unionists missed chance for positive change with Belfast-Derry motorway

 DUP leader Arlene Foster: her  tone matters because nationalists have taken an allergic dislike to her. That may be unfair but it is a fact, on which the future of devolution depends. Photograph: PA

Power seeping away from a DUP leader who seems incapable of rapprochement

Karen Bradley, the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, is, like her predecessor James Brokenshire, one of prime minister Theresa May’s home office proteges.  Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

New Secretary of State could push for talks chaired by UK and Irish governments

Tánaiste  Simon Coveney: has been clear that London and Dublin cannot enforce workable reforms over the DUP and Sinn Féin’s head. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Powersharing rules must ensure a party walkout does not bring down Stormont

The British and Irish governments are presenting Stormont talks and BIIGC meetings as competing rather than complementary approaches. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

Unless London and Dublin can work together, there’s little hope of DUP-Sinn Féin deal

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Simon Coveney. “Dublin’s summit plan is a unilateral demand, in breach of protocol and precedent.” Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Government could kill Stormont by twisting Belfast Agreement to suit its Brexit needs

 Sinn Féin  welcomed publication of a  letter  signed by 200 northern nationalists that cited a  “sense of abandonment” over Brexit, the Stormont impasse, and the  DUP-Tory Westminster deal. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty

Open letter signed by 200 northern nationalists suggests party has lost the initiative

The DUP is defending its shrinking laager with increasing stridency. It moves forward with little victories, yet is turning a ratchet against the very future of the union with every disregard it shows to its Irish constituents. Photograph: Pacemaker

Party that is all tactics and no strategy has ultimately put the union at risk

Border Communities against Brexit sign on the outskirts of Newry. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Risk of civil disobedience could make the Border problem quietly disappear

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams at the party’s ardfheis in Dublin last weekend. Shortly after the attack in 1983, Adams said Charlie Armstrong was a “perfectly legitimate” target.  Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

Sinn Féin leader bought peace by setting stage for next conflict

‘Northern Ireland could not mirror Hong Kong and become a link between the EU and the UK.’ Photograph: Getty Images

It is laughable to suggest Northern Ireland can function like Hong Kong after UK’s exit

Sinn Féin’s president Gerry Adams and leader in Northern Ireland Michelle O’Neill: party has bent the old Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil order out of shape, creating a grand coalition against it. Photograph: Peter Morrisson/Reuters

As most popular party among under-35s in Republic, SF is also main opposition

Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy at Stormont. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Sinn Féin and DUP supporters would have no option but to accept a new accord

Catalan protesters: Sinn Féin is pointing to Spain and unwittingly reminding everyone of how passive the UK is towards its constituent parts.  Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images

Making comparisons with Spanish situation only serves to show how accommodating UK is

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and DUP leader Arlene Foster: Existing arguments over a Border poll are due to ambiguity in the agreement, so adding further doubt only makes matters worse. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Unpicking Belfast Agreement’s mechanism for referendum risks causing more uncertainty

A mock customs post set up by anti-Brexit campaigners at Ravensdale, Co Louth. The tale of the Border dog is an anti-Brexit version of “Yes Minister’s” “Eurosausage” – an EU scare story made up or exaggerated to cause popular outrage. Photograph: PA

Leo Varadkar playing dangerous game by saying Ireland has no Plan B for Border

Sinn Féin’s Northern Ireland leader Michelle O’Neill and DUP leader Arlene Foster. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

All vetoes do is let both sides block each other, frustrating any possible consensus

Britain’s  opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn acknowledges  applause  after a speech on the final day of the Labour  conference in Brighton, September 27th, 2017. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Newton Emerson: Corbyn's rise means the UK may have to relearn some harsh lessons

Arlene Foster: Ulster Scots is not a prize to compare with Irish. It is a load of nonsense and everyone knows it. Photograph: Eric Luke Staff

Newton Emerson: Stalemate and wasted energy may delay powersharing until spring

Demonstrators celebrate the Catalan national day in Barcelona on Monday. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images

SF is backing Catalonia’s separatists while trying to force unionists into a united Ireland

Minister for Foreign Affairs  Simon Coveney with  Northern  Secretary James Brokenshire at Iveagh House in Dublin. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Row over Simon Coveney statement shows the fine line both governments tread

Ian Paisley: he told Bertie Ahern he was a proud Ulsterman and a proud Irishman in that order, adding he did not need the English telling him what to do. Photograph: Getty Images

An independent North is not possible, but that the idea persists is revealing

Sinn Féin’s leader in the North Michelle O’Neill. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Northern unionists are ready to do a deal, but SF is engaged in a dangerous self-indulgence

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe at the unveiling of the Public Services Card last year. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

UK-Irish identification likely alternative to policing already overwhelmed borders

A car on fire in the North Queen Street area of Belfast, close to the site of a contentious bonfire. A refusal to tackle dangerous loyalist bonfires has undermined faith in the rule of law. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

PSNI longer offers itself up as target for rioters but must clarify its strategy

‘After a year of exploring technological Border solutions, the Government has suddenly lost faith in this approach.’ Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

There is a significant risk that paramilitary funding will evade new customs measures

Sinn Féin national chair Declan Kearney pitched his proposal in the North’s main unionist newspaper. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Newton Emerson: Sinn Féin chairman’s call for Bill in ‘Belfast Telegraph’ worth considering

Simon Coveney  is entitled to express frustration with the UK’s appalling ill-preparedness for Brexit. Once again the real problem with his remarks was their futile, ill-timed stirring of the pot

Minister blundering in with doom-laden pronouncements on Brexit was unhelpful

DUP leader Arlene Foster. The DUP routes all candidate donations via the party, as does Sinn Féin. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

Results from any further transparency likely to disappoint conspiracy theorists

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams. File photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Stormont stand-off is based on a misrepresentation of the party’s position

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams. “There is an extent to which Adams is always still voiced by an actor.” Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Lurid headlines in London about DUP-Tory deal contrast with realism in North

London visit: Theresa May looked at Leo Varadkar like he was the star of her own personal rom-com. Photograph:  Philip Toscano/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Opinion: Belfast Agreement requires the British government to act with impartiality

 Arlene Foster and her deputy, Nigel Dodds, arrive at 10 Downing Street for talks on a deal to prop up a Tory minority administration. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Unionist violence will no longer be compartmentalised following a DUP-Tory deal

Protesters  march against the Conservative  alliance with the DUP over the weekend. Photograph: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

The deal would have implications for Brexit, Stormont and Northern Irish society

 Leo Varadkar: he has gone through the motions of advocating a united Ireland, yet says Sinn Féin is “the greatest threat to our democracy” and restoring devolution to Stormont is his immediate priority.  Photograph: Aidan Crawley/EPA

Leo Varadkar’s centre-right economic views essential to securing a united Ireland

Rathfriland, Co Down: in a unionist town, nobody is particularly welcome.

Simply beating Sinn Féin may expose lack of policy to expand unionist appeal

 UK Labour Party  leader: Anti-imperialist, anti-racist analysis is the bedrock of the British far-left’s worldview. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty

Notion of NI as former British colony was laid to rest with the Belfast Agreement

Hong Kong: the city  is rated one of the least corrupt places on earth, with a lower risk of commercial bribery than Norway. Photograph: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images

Hong Kong’s anti-graft agency serves as a model for Minister’s campaign centrepiece

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams. ‘Sinn Féin is so focused on getting into office in Dublin that the party may even retire its leader at Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil’s behest.’ Photograph: Stephen Hamilton/Press Eye

Sinn Féin’s desire to enter a coalition in the South gives FF and FG leverage over the party

The Irish flag flies atop the GPO in Dublin to commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising. File photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

EU stance erases the question of whether Irish unity would mean an entirely new state

 The Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. Since the late 1990s there have been five official reports  in the North that have advised cutting the number of acute hospitals from 15 to four

Nuns and DUP ministers may be the last people on the island who concur with each other

British prime minister Theresa May. Photograph: Getty Images

Theresa May’s move may throw a spanner into talks on forming a devolved government

Belfast, 1989: “High unemployment was hardly unique to Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 1980s but it combined with the Troubles to create a grim sense of inevitability – it felt like there would always be few jobs and even fewer prospects.” File photograph: Getty Images

British government wants to use Brexit to substitute migrant workers with the unemployed

 Brexit has raised new questions and the collapse of Stormont  means no answers. Photograph: Getty Images

‘If there were fewer powers and fewer people wielding them, would there be less arguing?’

Unlike  Martin McGuinness, the vast bulk of the population got through the Troubles by simply ignoring them. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Extent to which most got through Northern conflict by ignoring it is bizarre to recall

If the majority evaporates, the Border becomes unsustainable. Nationalists will want it gone and unionists will see no point to it. Photograph: Russell Cheyne/Reuters

Challenge would be how to treat demands of British minority once motion passed

Sinn Féin leader  Gerry Adams: what a transformation has already occurred in his personal fortunes. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Unionism has provoked nationalism into a thrilling tribal slap-down

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said joint authority  was “the only acceptable position for the nationalist community if, post-election, an Executive cannot be formed”.  Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

This codology is powerful enough delusion to undermine support for Stormont

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams speaks to media outside the Sinn Fein offices on Falls Road in Belfast on Friday. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Arlene Foster’s success at raising the republican vote has changed the landscape

Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill with Gerry Adams. The DUP likes to portray Adams as a bogeyman pulling O’Neill’s strings – an electoral scare-tactic that works because it is obviously true. Photograph: Getty Images

How will Sinn Féin keep ‘disrespect’ row alive with no Executive to be disrespected in?

Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill and DUP leader Arlene Foster: Both women have had strikingly similar executive careers, marked by unusually long and mediocre tenures in a single, safe department. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Sinn Féin’s demand that Arlene Foster leave compels DUP to consider ‘dual leadership’

 Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt. Photograph: Alan Betson

UUP’s eccentric leadership no match for cynical rule changes given to SF and DUP

Generational change: Sinn Féin’s    Michelle O’Neill and   Gerry Adams. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty

Stormont’s veto system has worked so far, but the next generation will expect more

Deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald and Northern leader Michelle O’Neill were impressively vague this week about Sinn Féin’s campaign for EU special status. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Pragmatism from party is connected to its prospects south of the Border

Sinn Féin’s new Northern leader Michelle O’Neill with the party’s president Gerry Adams: Last Saturday, Mr Adams told a Sinn Féin conference that Brexit is a “hostile action” that would “destroy the Good Friday Agreement”. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Taking North out of EU does not breach Belfast Agreement and it is highly irresponsible to claim otherwise

Closed for business: The sun sets over Stormont. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Gerry Adams may relish playing crisis politics, but he did not escalate ‘cash for ash’ row

 Paul Givan (right, with  Sinn Féin’s Máirtín Ó Muilleoir):  The DUP minister was denounced as an “ignoramus” by Gerry Adams after cutting an Irish-language bursary.   Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

‘Unionism is British nationalism, and two nationalisms cannot have equal standing’

Less than equal partners? Martin McGuinness and Arlene Foster. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

Unionists about to be taught lesson they never learn: deal with nationalism now

The annual loss from RHI, at just under £25 million (€29m), is mundane by Stormont standards. Photograph: Paul Faith.

Administrative incompetence a bigger threat to union than bomb everyone seems to be braced for

For decades if not centuries before 2011, Northern Ireland’s marching bands – its “largest community arts sector”, to use Givan’s heroic description – managed without any public money.  Photograph: Eric Luke

Both sides have been cheaply bought by those who march them around in circles,

The SNP’s implied acceptance of federalism goes beyond Brexit, creating a general survival mechanism for the UK

The Scottish National Party has bought into the idea of federalism saving the union

Arlene Foster ruled out stepping aside because she had done nothing wrong, although Robinson had the wit to say he was stepping aside precisely to prove he had done nothing wrong. Photograph: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Foster’s character leaves her unable to be responsible or civil or recognise limits

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams: When Brian Stack’s sons approached Sinn Féin for help they were effectively put through the Stormont House mechanism.  Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Adams’s handling of the Stack case is in line with past – and imperfect – agreements

Last British governor of Hong Kong Chris Patten at handover ceremony in 1997. Photograph:  Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

Similarity between Belfast Agreement and Hong Kong handover is great unmentionable

Rev Ian Paisley: how strange that so many people were so recently led by a man of such antique obsessions.

Protestants must reassess Paisleyism and his bizarre anti-papist rhetoric

 Máirtín Ó Muilleoir: says Ireland can no longer afford the cost of partition. Photograph:  Mark Marlow/Pacemaker

Party’s campaign video seeks to convince voters that North is an economic miracle

Arlene Foster could lead unionism broadly and generously. She cannot do this with petulance and bad grace. Photograph: PA

Brusque DUP First Minister needs to tone down the tantrums

David Ervine at Stormont in 2006: the former PUP leader  spun a story of working-class roots straight out of a Ken Loach movie. Photograph: Reuters

Violence of UDA and UVF still being traced to North’s drawing rooms

Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness  at the All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit: “Sinn Féin has directly linked Brexit and Irish unity by calling for a Border poll.” Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

It is self-defeating for nationalists to be scaremongering about effects of UK vote

Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair after the signing of the Belfast Agreement on April 10th, 1998. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell/Reuters

Human rights are sewn into the Belfast Agreement, which the UK will not breach

Perhaps the Taoiseach is ignoring all this because his forum is just a gimmick or a distraction for political rivals – in which case, everyone should boycott it. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

Cross-Border discussions already possible and real talks will be between Dublin and London

A  customs stop on the road from Belfast to Dublin. “So we are left to picture a vaguely 1950s netherworld of peak-capped inspectors in wooden huts, completely alien to the technology and practice of modern trade and travel.” Photograph: Three Lions/Getty Images

Hysteria about a post-Brexit Border from the 1950s is in danger of tipping over into farce

 Coverage in the “Sun” of the  Hillsborough  disaster: Independent councillor Paul Gallagher has asked local newsagents to stop selling the paper

The attempted suppression of a paper by political parties is clearly an act of oppression

Neil Kinnock, former leader of the British Labour Party, used his 1985 conference speech to challenge the militants head on. Photograph: Alan Betson

Unlike Sinn Féin, unionists have yet to confront the cranks in their ranks

Jamie Bryson leaving Parliament Buildings in Belfast where he gave evidence to Stormont’s Finance Committee on the controversial sale of Nama’s NI assets to a US investor. Photograph:  Niall Carson/PA Wire

He testified against the DUP over Nama, then exposed SF for trying to coach him

The parties at Stormont have a “one of ours and one of yours” culture regarding public appointments – fair nepotism, if you like. Photograph: PA

Practice is intrinsic and inevitable in such a very small place but we choose to ignore it

The Troubles generation was marked by an almost total collapse in the unionist sense of Irishness, which is usually explained as a reaction to republican violence. TREVOR MCBRIDE PICTURE©

For people my age Northern Ireland really was as British as Finchley

Titanic Belfast: The attraction, implausibly named this week as the best in Europe, sits in a semi-abandoned shipyard, which in turn sits within the huge Harbour Estate. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Despite Titanic Belfast the former industrial wasteland is still well worth a visit

A painted lady butterfly near the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast. Photograph: Cepa Giblin

Over 2,500 marches have taken place with less bloodshed than at Notting Hill Carnival

Daithí McKay. Photograph: Pacemaker

Newton Emerson: It looks like this attempt to move the party upmarket is becoming increasingly ad hoc as it fails to produce any s(...)

“The UUP could be as readily seized as Labour because it has the same one-member one-vote rule that brought in Jeremy Corbyn (above).” Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

Labour membership in Northern Ireland up tenfold as a consequence of Jeremy Corbyn

“On the day of his death, John Boreland’s own name was in print. He was almost certainly aware of this.” Photograph: AFP/PSNI

Festering loyalist feud and the criminality behind it have been as public as a parade

Stormont in Northern Ireland.

Unionist minority would need some assurance of real influence in all-Ireland Dáil

When DUP leader Arlene Foster shot down Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s proposal for a forum three weeks ago, her concerns were presumed to be the normal unionist contempt for anything all-Ireland, plus paradoxical indignation at Kenny forgetting to run the idea past her first. Liam McBurney/PA

Foremost unionist party objects to inclusion of Ulster Unionists in forum

In the past month, the euro has varied against the pound by 13.2 per cent. The exchange rate is the real hard border. Photograph:  Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

As in Scotland, nationalists can win that vote if they persuade a relatively small chunk of the electorate that their money is saf(...)

The huge bonfire in the Shankill Road in Belfast is lit on the “Eleventh night” to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Middle class unionism has drifted away from 12th bonfires making them someone elses problem

The EU is cited nine times in the Belfast Agreement but only in passing. Brussels has no formal role in any of the agreement’s institutions. Even the all-Ireland EU funding body is not specified in the agreement’s text – and EU funding can continue by treating Northern Ireland as a border region. Photograph: Dan Chung/Reuters

Very little will change in UK leaves the EU unless Scotland becomes independent

There has not been widespread public disorder over a specifically constitutional development in Northern Ireland since the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement - and that was far from spontaneous. Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

The two great concerns - redundancies and rioting - are overplayed

David Cameron has been front and centre for the Remain campaign but a Brexit vote will mean another Scottish independence bid, probably within two years. Photograph: Getty Images

‘Far from having a deep state, the UK looks like a uniquely shallow state – not even summoning up the most routine of dark arts in(...)

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