Sticking points as Stormont deadline looms

Signing DUP-Tory deal Image copyright Reuters

So the cheque is in the post after the DUP agreed to back Theresa May's minority government in Commons votes.

As a result, Northern Ireland will receive an extra £1bn during the next two years as part of the deal, but what could prevent the Stormont parties setting up a power-sharing executive to spend the money?

RHI inquiry

Image copyright tchara
Image caption The Renewable Heat Incentive scheme is approximately £490m over budget

The most obvious sticking point is Sinn Féin's previous stipulation that it won't share power with DUP leader Arlene Foster until an inquiry into her controversial and expensive RHI Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI) scheme is concluded.

That inquiry is expected to take more than a year.

But after her election success and this week's deal, Mrs Foster's position within the DUP appears impregnable.

Read full article Sticking points as Stormont deadline looms

Where does Tory-DUP deal leave power-sharing talks?

Theresa May shakes Arlene Foster's hand in Downing Street as she arrives for talks
Image caption The talks have taken more than two weeks to conclude

Northern Ireland will receive an extra £1bn over the next two years as part of the deal that will see the Democratic Unionist Party's 10 MPs back Theresa May's minority government in Commons votes.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said the "wide-ranging" pact was "good for Northern Ireland and the UK" - but where does it leave talks to restore power-sharing in Belfast?

Read full article Where does Tory-DUP deal leave power-sharing talks?

Is DUP-Tory courtship cooling off?

DUP leader Arlene Foster and DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds arriving at 10 Downing Street in London for talks Image copyright PA
Image caption The DUP have been negotiating a deal to support the Tory elected government

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has poured cold water on reports that his party was seeking an extra £2bn in health and infrastructure spending.

That was - according to the Lagan Valley MP - "wild speculation" and "wide of the mark".

Read full article Is DUP-Tory courtship cooling off?

DUP deals and dialogue: where are we now?

DUP members Emma Little-Pengelly, Sammy Wilson, Gregory Campbell, Gavin Robinson, Nigel Dodds and party leader Arlene Foster outside the Stormont hotel in Belfast. Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The DUP met with the Conservative Party's chief whip Gavin Williamson on Saturday

Don't be surprised if things go quiet today so far as the DUP-Conservative discussions are concerned.

Not all DUP politicians are Sabbatarians, but enough are to make it party policy to avoid being seen to negotiate on a Sunday.

Read full article DUP deals and dialogue: where are we now?

Blondes and Brexit - NI's second election in three months

Voter on bike Image copyright PACEMAKER
Image caption Northern Ireland voters last went to the polls in March

It has been a strange election campaign in Northern Ireland, coming so quickly after the March assembly contest and interrupting the talks that were meant to restore devolution.

The debate has ranged across the implications of Brexit for cross-border trade, the consequences of the political vacuum at Stormont and, rather less predictably, whether it is OK for one party leader to call another a "blonde".

Read full article Blondes and Brexit - NI's second election in three months

Irish Language issue still has (crocodile) teeth

Crocodile Image copyright PACEMAKER
Image caption Arlene Foster originally made her "crocodile" quip while vowing there would be no Irish Language Act

If labelling Sinn Féin as "crocodiles" was the Arlene Foster phrase that stuck at the start of the spring assembly election campaign, then the DUP leader was determined not to make the same mistake again at the outset of the Westminster battle.

The ad lib "crocodile" comment emerged during answers to the press, so the DUP's Gavin Robinson was only half joking when he advised party activists that the longer they cheered the better, as it would cut down the time for those pesky enquiries from reporters.

Read full article Irish Language issue still has (crocodile) teeth

Stormont in limbo after "worst" talks - but what next?

Stormont
Image caption Sinn Féin and the DUP have pointed the finger at each other over the failed talks process

The Ulster Unionist chief negotiator said it was "simply the worst" talks process ever. And there's not a lot of people rushing to contradict him.

Blame will be thrown in different directions.

Read full article Stormont in limbo after "worst" talks - but what next?

Walking with Martin McGuinness and Buttons the dog

The panoramic view from Grianan of Aileach
Image caption The panoramic view from Grianan of Aileach - a special place for Martin McGuinness

Buffeted by a freezing wind on a chilly afternoon last April, I accompanied Martin McGuinness and his dog for a stroll around an ancient Irish hill fort just across the border on the Inishowen peninsula in Donegal.

Grianan of Aileach was a special place for the deputy first minister, perhaps because it reminded him of Ireland's ancient history, but also because it afforded panoramic views across the counties of Donegal, Derry and Tyrone.

Read full article Walking with Martin McGuinness and Buttons the dog

Irish border poll unlikely, but possible

Nicola Sturgeon Image copyright PA
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon's has called for a second Independence Referendum

A bewildering list of developments has contributed to a sense that perhaps the political tectonic plates are on the move.

It includes:

Read full article Irish border poll unlikely, but possible

Can fake views influence real votes in the Stormont election?

Danny Kennedy Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The UUP's Danny Kennedy claims he was the victim of a fake election leaflet

The other day I was chatting to one of my editors who was dutifully framing a response to a letter of complaint from a viewer exercised about my colleague Mark Carruthers' handling of an interview with Arlene Foster on "The View".

I peered over her shoulder and was surprised to realise I'd read the letter already - in that morning's News Letter.

Read full article Can fake views influence real votes in the Stormont election?