We are in the midst of a national election focussed on Brexit, yet here the primary focus of the lead party of unionism, the DUP, appears to be on a return to an unworkable Stormont.
Articulating a Brexit-compatible vision for strengthening the Union, rather than reheating the thin gruel of more Stormont failure, might be more relevant.
The TUV has stood aside in the particular circumstances of this election, in the wider interests of unionism. But this must not be used as a means of peddling a Stormont agenda, which is not in the long term interests of Northern Ireland’s place in the Union.
Unionism is not in a good place, but one thing is certain, the Stormont on offer is not the answer.
If the answer is, ‘Get Sinn Fein (which the PSNI recently confirmed is still directed by the IRA Army Council) back into government, offer them whatever it takes on the Irish language, accept the disastrous Sinn Fein shaped legacy proposals of the Stormont House agreement, work and expand the Belfast Agreement institutions and foist again the fiasco of mandatory coalition on us all’, then, the question, clearly, has nothing to do with strengthening the Union.
Quite the reverse!
Despite having the advantage of holding the trump card at Westminster, unionism has been betrayed.
The very government kept in office signed up to the nationalist dream of no border in Ireland, but an economic border in the Irish Sea, separating us from Great Britain and creating an all-Ireland economic reality and dynamic.
The step from an All-Ireland economy to an All-Ireland State is short.
How was unionism so outmanoeuvred?
That is the uncomfortable question that must be faced.
The answer lies in the pernicious Belfast Agreement, with culpability on those who accepted it processes, either initially, or ultimately.
Why do I say that? Because the Belfast Agreement set as our destination Irish unity.
That such is the outcome of its processes is clear from the fact that the only question Northern Ireland can now be asked in a referendum is “are you yet ready to join the Irish Republic?”.
That is its objective, with mandatory coalition with IRA/Sinn Fein its key softening up modus operandi.
When republicans talk about protecting “the process” they mean the prescribed process of Irish unity.
That is not just an aspirational goal, but the only permitted destination.
Then, and only then, would “the process” be complete.
Heaven help unionists then, including those who waken up too late.
It is no coincidence that in the Brexit negotiations the United Kingdom government and the European Union headlined preservation of the Belfast Agreement as their guiding star.
Such made treating us differently and our betrayal inevitable.
A proper Brexit, with the whole UK going its own way, had to be stopped or the Belfast Agreement plan was thwarted.
Hence, our detachment from Great Britain in the Boris deal.
So, what can we do?
Continue to work the Belfast Agreement arrangements and the outcome is inevitable.
Hence, the folly of those who clamour for the return of Stormont.
It is delusional to think that constantly paying the price will deliver other than the Provo outcome.
There is nothing satiable about Sinn Fein demands! They will never want to make Northern Ireland work.
Stormont with a unionist minority is the road to all-Ireland absorption.
Belfast City Council is a living demonstration of such unionist subjugation.
The only viable option is to return to traditional unionist philosophy of ‘One Crown, One Parliament, One nation’ and tilt towards integration.
Such, though not without discomfort, is the hardest demand for a United Kingdom government, professing commitment to the Union, to repudiate.
It is time to put principle, even survival, before the short termite of holding government office, particularly when such office is only available through the grace and favour of IRA/Sinn Fein.
• Jim Allister QC is TUV leader and MLA for North Antrim