This election was unnecessary but Sinn Fein forced it.
The reasons Martin McGuinness gave for doing so, filled with victimhood, gave a chilling insight into the political future in Northern Ireland.
Sinn Fein, once secondary to the IRA but now dominant in the republican movement, has honed the politics of grievance. Michelle O’Neill ostensibly moves the party into a new era, but listen to her language. She forces the word equality into every sentence, with its implication of widespread anti Catholic discrimination. Yet no-one outside of dissident circles could seriously argue that in 2017 Northern Ireland is biased in that way.
In her tribute to IRA terrorists at Coalisland, she said that “war came to them”. Only a culture steeped in dishonesty would say so about fanatical, highly armed killers.
This, though, is how legacy is being viewed in Northern Ireland – an often subtle process in which the police and army are depicted as sectarian aggressors. There are questions to be asked as to how unionists agreed the Stormont House legacy structures, but these are for after the election.
Unionists will only be able to bring balance if voters go to the polls in large numbers. Many will have to overcome any apathy they might feel about this election after the RHI scandal.
The News Letter has long been neutral between pro-Union parties, but of course there are impressive candidates across the divide.
Mike Nesbitt’s pledge to transfer to the SDLP was problematic, apart from anything else, on grounds of consistency – he has also supported unionist unity. But there have always been unionists who included nationalists they respect such as PJ Bradley, who has just died, in their preferences.
In general there is no middle ground on matters such as whether terror was ever justified or the constitutional position amid demands in Scotland and here for border polls.
This newspaper has helped lead RHI coverage. We were early to call for a robust inquiry into such a waste of money. Sinn Fein pressed for this destabilising poll even when an inquiry was on offer.
It thinks it can make electoral gain. It needs to be shown otherwise today at the ballot box.