Dublin : No matter how the two governments try and spin it the fact that Irish and British prime ministers Brian Cowen and Gordon Brown left the talks in Northern Ireland without reaching a deal is a huge setback.

Not fatal but a setback.

In the end the Democratic Unionist Party revealed their sectarian thinking that nationalists were not entitled to an even share of power, that concessions from Sinn Fein did not have to be matched by concessions from their side.

Sinn Fein signed up to accept a new police force in Northern Ireland. The DUP agreed if they did so that policing and justice would be handled in the Northern Ireland Assembly rather than in London.

That was three years ago at the St. Andrews Agreement and it was expected to be implemented three months later.

It never was because the DUP decided they wanted to grab the concession by Sinn Fein and pocket it.

So all the king's horses and all the king's men cannot put this particular Humpty Dumpty together again it seems.

There are still efforts underway to set up a schedule for the transferring of powers but it looks very likely that Peter Robinson has decided to wait past the British general election because he believes he will have a stronger hand with the Tories.

Robinson has proven an abject failure as a leader to date. His inability to bring his party in behind the agreement that saw them attain government is a crushing blow but hardly surprising.

The questions abut his wife's behavior and his own in knowing about dubious loans to her young lover but not reporting them may bring him down anyway.

That may well be a step in the right direction . Lead, follow or get out of the way Peter .