What happened at Stormont yesterday, when Arlene Foster announced that it was not possible to reach a deal with Sinn Fein, was a grim milestone for Northern Ireland.
But it was, nonetheless, a necessary development.
Since it collapsed the Executive last January, Sinn Fein has had red lines for the re-establishment of power-sharing. The DUP has had none.
But many observers have confused the fact that the DUP has rightly resisted republican red lines with the party issuing red lines of its own. It didn’t.
Only Sinn Fein thinks that it can make demands that must be granted before everyone can get a devolved government.
Meanwhile, having brought the process to a halt in blackmail over a language, there is an emerging budgetary crisis in health and education.
But not only did Sinn Fein issue rotating non-negotiable demands — including on gay marriage and legacy structures that it believes will make the IRA look good — the party toured Britain and Ireland talking about respect, integrity and equality.
It has in the process greatly destabilised Northern Ireland, and fuelled grievance among young nationalists.
But worse than that, while talking about respect the party has if anything stepped up its tributes to IRA murderers.
The new broom, the supposedly progressive Mary Lou McDonald, used the old IRA cry ‘tiocfaidh Ar La’ (our day will come) at a Sinn Fein event. She celebrated a bomber in Castlewellan.
No wonder that there was a reaction against such hypocrisy.
Republicans hound Arlene Foster almost no matter what she says, yet behave in a far more disrespectful way than Mrs Foster has ever done.
And not only that, they then think that they can dictate events.
Dublin, meanwhile, was relentlessly unhelpful, telling unionists that they must accede to an Irish language act and making clear that if a deal is not struck the Irish government will have an increased say here.
Nationalists react with hyper-sensivity to the hint of a slight, let alone threats. Well, unionists won’t jump to threats either.
And particularly not when, after the goodwill that was expressed towards Irish and unionist willingness to accommodate that tradition, all we heard about was Irish language groups like Conradh na Gaeilge confirming the worst fears of the ultimate aims of gaelic legislation.
Now government must move to London, with no reward for Sinn Fein in the form of increased input from Dublin.