ONLY the most optimistic political pundits expected a deal to be done to secure the return of the Northern Ireland Executive on Monday, when British prime minister, Theresa May, and Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, were in Belfast.
Part of that optimism was predicated on the change of Sinn Féin leadership.
It might have been paternalistic to hope that three female leaders — Theresa May, Arlene Foster, and Mary Lou McDonald — could secure a deal.
Ms Foster now appears to have scuppered any hope of a return to devolved government any time soon, declaring that there remain major stumbling blocks to an agreement, in particular the recognition of the Irish language.
That means that, despite her party’s unique position in keeping May in power, Northern Ireland will have even less say on Brexit, a topic dear to the heart of British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, who spoke, yesterday, of the “economic freedoms” of leaving the EU.
It doing so, she appears to have ‘lámhaigh í féin sa chos’, or shot herself in the foot. That may be lost on her in translation.