Reading today's Irish News, I found it very interesting to see reported the fact that the two governments are preparing a "Plan B" if talks this year do not see the Assembly re-formed. This "Plan B" would involve the British and Irish governments jointly managing the affairs of the north, a form of Joint Authority.
I think this is a very interesting proposal. Personally I would still prefer to see a power sharing assembly and executive up and running and it seems most people in the north share this view. However I do think that it is important to have a lever to apply pressure on instransigent Unionists who are trying to prevent change. If given the chance, the DUP will continue to do what they they do best - say "No, no, no" to any possible proposals. Their objective is to stall and hold up the process and so prevent any meaningful progress. This is why I would oppose any "half way house" assembly as I feel such a set-up would be nothing more than a get-out clause to prevent the DUP having to face up to their responsibilities.
Direct rule is not a feasible long term solution. Either the DUP stop whinging in the corner and face up to the challenge of meaningful negotiations and power sharing or they will have to face rule by both the Irish and British governments. I think this would be the worst case scenario for the DUP because they trust neither government. For Nationalists such a scenario holds no fear and if it comes to pass, the DUP will have only themselves to balme. They can't say they weren't warned!