To date, Sinn Féin's discussions with the two governments and the UUP have focused on the need to secure firm commitments - guarantees - on the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and the sustainability of the institutions.
The rejection by the two governments of substantive initiatives earlier this year from the IRA, and then by the Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, and the decision of the British Prime Minster Tony Blair to twice cancel elections, inflicted enormous damage.
On top of this, the negative effect of the establishment of the so-called Independent Monitoring Commission, in breach of the Good Friday Agreement, cannot be overestimated.
There is enormous resentment among republicans and nationalists at the behaviour of the British government, and the constant, singular and unwarranted focus by it on blaming republicans, as evidenced by Paul Murphy's comments at the British Labour Party conference last week.
This week, Gerry Adams has pointed up the hardline stance taken by the Ulster Unionist Party, which now wants `radical change' to the Joint Declaration. The basis of Ulster Unionist unity is obviously political positions that are overtly anti-Agreement. The resolution adopted by the Ulster Unionist Executive on 3 October seeks to regress the situation rather than to progress it.
This negative development certainly makes the situation more difficult, but it cannot be allowed to hold up the calling of Assembly elections, which have been delayed too long already.