Another Blinking Pact
Blink and you might have missed it. Gerry Adams wrote to Margaret Ritchie offering cooperation in "specific constituencies" - code for Alec Maskey standing down in South Belfast in return for Fearghal McKinney doing the same in Fermanagh South Tyrone. The SDLP leader swiftly declined to meet the Sinn Fein President, instead lecturing him on his handling of the devolution of justice and his party's abstentionist stance. Mr Adams responded by accusing the SDLP of not treating the initiative seriously and rubbishing Alasdair McDonnell's attendancerecord at Westminster.
SDLP sources say that even if you took all the principled policy differences out of the equation the offer made no sense, as a Sinn Fein withdrawal from South Belfast would simply precipitate a unionist unity response in the seat.
However expect Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness to try to turn up the heat on the SDLP tonight and tomorrow accusing their rivals of being "vote splitters".