Liam Clarke has an ominous story in the Sunday Times suggesting that the DUP is set to rule out compusory power-sharing with nationalists in its manifesto.
The party apparently hopes that this will convince the UKUP’s Robert McCartney not to stand in North Down and give the DUP a shot at unseating the UUP’s Lady Sylvia Hermon.
However, such a manifesto commitment would effectively mean the DUP turning its back on any serious negotiations with nationalists after the election, for whom compulsory power-sharing is a minimum requirement, because of the in-built unionist majority in Northern Ireland.
Many nationalists will conclude that the DUP is once again moving the goalposts in anticipation of an IRA initiative in the next few weeks.
Liam Clarke himself is fairly sanguine about the consequences in a Sunday Times round up of the Northern Ireland campaign.
If the DUP and Sinn Fein do as well as predicted in the election, they will have a mandate to stand their ground in those talks, which means an agreement will be hard to secure. But, devolution or no devolution, peace looks set to prevail in Northern Ireland.
The political process may be frozen, but that doesn’t mean the peace process is. It still looks in pretty good shape.
The universal assumption that the DUP and Sinn Fein are set to poll well is backed up British Government research, according to Suzanne Breen in the Sunday Tribune (via Nuzhound.)