We are little over a week away from 100 days since we voted in the General Election on February 8. And progress in coalition- making has been painfully slow.
At long last the three would-be governing parties have set up their talking shop in the Agriculture Department down the street from Leinster House in the heart of Dublin. It is a positive that they have opened up talks - but far less encouraging that they are settling in for something of a "lockdown within a lockdown".
There is just far too much talk, even before we have reached the middle of the month of May, about things dragging into the month of June. Coronavirus rules have confined negotiating time every day for the coming fortnight to two or three sessions, with each session lasting two hours.
Given the range of issues to be covered, and the large gaps in various party positions, that kind of timetable could very well use up quite some time indeed. It is simply not good enough.
Our negotiators must simply lose this 'lockdown lethargy' and move things along. There is enough personnel there, and expert advice available, to break into themed negotiations allowing things to speed up considerably. The level of crisis this country faces has rendered these talks increasingly urgent. Not only are we without a government with a proper democratic mandate to govern, neither do we have a fully functioning parliament to bring in whatever legislation may be needed at short notice.
The non-pace at which we finally got to the point of starting talks, despite the parliamentary arithmetic indicating this Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael/Green Party configuration once votes were counted in full, has been deeply frustrating. Now that a format has been outlined and negotiating teams picked, people deserve to see those involved, from all three parties, showing some real urgency.
As things stand, many seasoned observers could with confidence name the bulk of the personnel who will sit around the cabinet table if a deal can be struck and sold to the respective party organisations. Bearing in mind that we must factor in some more time to allow the various party memberships consider any agreed government programme, we see an even greater need for speeding things up.
Everybody accepts that there were deep differences between the Green Party and the other two on several key issues. There is no doubt that these differences are genuine and based on views sincerely held.
But politics is always the art of the possible - and sometimes even the art of the impossible. Political formulae exist to bridge the gaps and achieve practical and workable compromises.
We know that trust is in short supply as the three groups sit down to negotiate seriously from today. One way to start building trust is to utterly outlaw name-calling and glib comments.
The Green Party is very definitely not an "impractical ideologue" - nor are Fianna Fáil and/or Fine Gael "indifferent to the environment". So, let's have compromises - let's have them soon.