Ulster Unionist leader Reg Empey has warned that disagreements between the DUP and Sinn Féin are so deep that the Stormont Executive might not meet before the end of the year.
Another meeting of the executive has been scheduled for Thursday, but there is still no sign of an end to the stand-off.
Empey said he understood talks were continuing between the two larger parties but he was not particularly optimistic.
Sinn Féin has refused to agree an agenda for future executive meetings as it said that although the DUP will talk endlessly about anything, they will not reach negotiated agreements on the devolution of policing, an Irish language act or the future of education.
Peter Robinson, the DUP leader, said Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams is having difficulty coming to terms with no longer being able to control events.
Mr Adams has accused the DUP of refusing to accept partnership government and of using abusive and offensive language.
Empey said all this is adding to the contempt the public feel for local politicians.