SO WHERE are we now? The resurrection of Stormont by the autumn is looking increasingly unlikely unless Sir Jeffrey can assert authority over the 'never, never' brigade in his party.
He's currently having a strop behind the scenes as he accuses some members – unnamed, but we know who they are – of briefing against the party.
Is it a split? Who knows? But it must be increasingly galling for the Stormont wing of the party to be kept in suspended animation while the Westminster crew swan about on their big salaries and expenses in the very institution that is actually responsible for the hated Protocol.
If they don't wise-up, what's the alternative? It looks like we're heading in the direction of aimless drift until there's a general election. And what will that change, even if there is a change of government?
Keir Starmer has already professed himself a unionist when it comes to the United Kingdom, because he fears the prospect of Scotland leaving, and has shown little other interest in our wee province.
It's not good enough though, is it? The civil service is currently trying to keep the leaky boat afloat in the absence of a government, which seems fitting for a place that's obsessed with the Titanic. But the health service is failing, children can't access special needs education, public service workers are at the end of their tether and roads are pocked with potholes.
What's worse is that there is almost a general acceptance that this is our lot. Little wonder that young people get educated and get out.
I heard the tail-end of a discussion on Talkback recently, when a man talked about his sense of loss over his adult children choosing to live their lives in a different country. He was at pains to say he wasn't comparing himself to those who had suffered an actual bereavement because of the Troubles, but he felt, nonetheless, that the conflict here and the ongoing political stalemate meant he and many like him wouldn't see their children and grandchildren grow and prosper here. It felt like a loss. It is.
It's hard to even imagine the sense of optimism there was just after the Good Friday Agreement. Twenty-five years later, there is cynicism about its achievements. Violence largely ended, but politics has not developed as it was intended.
The Agreement was supposed to be subject to review, but the stop-start progress meant that didn't happen and neither the DUP nor Sinn Féin are willing to adopt the changes that would end the mutual veto that has bedevilled the process since the start. Turkeys don't vote for Christmas and neither party has suffered any real electoral harm by sticking to the status quo.
Northern Ireland is like a child orphaned by the neglect of its parents, the British and Irish governments, neither of whom have shown more than a passing interest. That needs to change. Joint authority is not part of the GFA arrangements, but direct rule from Westminster, with proper involvement from Dublin, would be a start.
In the meantime, let those who advocate for the union prove it's worth saving, and those who see Irish unity as the only solution, show us in greater detail how it might work out. Then maybe we could stop rearing our children for export.
MANY people were indeed offended by the hate-filled speech blared out by one of those purple-faced street preachers as people watched Belfast's Pride parade last week. I noticed from the TV report that the PSNI seemed more intent on stopping the person who was trying to record it on his phone than stopping the abusive ranter.
Said preacher's claims that he'd been taken out of context were met with general derision. But I was much more disturbed this week by the report that Women's Aid in Belfast and Lisburn says it is currently dealing with more than 230 female victims of human trafficking. In 2021 the figure was 47.
One woman had actually been the victim of illegal organ removal, having had her kidney removed without her consent or knowledge.
This is where our attention should be.
It's scarcely credible that the Republican party might well choose Donald Trump as their election candidate, despite him being indicted for, among other things, challenging the very democracy he was supposed to uphold while President.
He might well be back in the White House in 2024, when he should be in a prison cell. God help America.