Almost daily, there are fresh reasons to conclude the direct rule from Westminster is, regrettably, the best option for Northern Ireland.
The Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams gave the clearest indication yesterday that there is little alternative: “Let’s be very, very clear – there won’t be an Assembly without an Acht na Gaelige [Irish language act]. The DUP know that, the governments know that.”
The republican party has been indulged now for months, as one red line or another emerges. Now Mr Adams has been explicit: an act is non negotiable.
His belligerent conduct is no surprise but even so it’s a reminder of how foolish the NIO was to issue a recent statement implying that direct rule was off the table, thus giving comfort to Sinn Fein.
Mr Adams was given further succour yesterday by the Alliance and Green Parties, who attended an event pushing for such an act, and so fuelled the notion that the problem lies with unionists, rather than with a scheming, destabilising SF.
Yet Alliance, according to Paula Bradshaw MLA on BBC Radio Talkback yesterday, is emphasising that it will not back some of the sectarian details that Sinn Fein want in such an act, that are deliberately aimed at making people of the British tradition uncomfortable.
If Alliance really wanted to demonstrate support for an act, but its independence of mind from republicans on the act’s exact shape, why did it attend yesterday’s event, upon which Mr Adams – predictably – seized?
Now that we know the intentions of Sinn Fein, it is increasingly clear that unionists should veto a standalone act.
On Talkback yesterday, Jim Allister intelligently explained the case against buckling to SF’s long game, when Irish is already so extensively supported by the state.
Robin Swann, the Ulster Unionist leader, also makes a welcome contribution, see link below, to the debate.
This range of unionist voices on such a crucial matter is welcome. It will be even more welcome if any centrist politicians speak out against an act that many of them must suspect to be deliberately divisive.