The deadlock in the Irish peace process looks set to continue for the foreseeable future despite intensive efforts by the Irish and British governments to broker a deal between Sinn Féin and the DUP.
The two governments are expected to publish proposals in the coming weeks aimed at restoring the political institutions in the North.
The proposals are believed to go some way towards meeting the demands of the DUP for changes to the workings of the Northern Assembly.
These changes, however, are likely to be rejected by both Sinn Féin and the SDLP, who feel the checks and balances built into the Good Friday Agreement cannot be altered to give unionists a veto over ministerial decisions.
Despite this, reports this morning said Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern had expressed cautious optimism that a deal could be reached within the next fortnight.