The Irish Independent, Dublin's most unionist-friendly newspaper, has joined the ranks of those calling on the DUP to make the necessary moves to bring about the devolution of policing and justice. In today's Indo, an article written by Maurice Hayes says:
"It is important that policing powers are transferred to the Assembly, and DUP should accept the need to do this quickly. They should also accept that Sinn Fein, if they are to be effective partners in government, need to show progress on this issue to those they persuaded to buy into support for the police."
And, in an echo of the comments made in this blog a few days ago, the Indo piece follows this up with:
"It may be too that, fortified by a successful party conference in which he re-asserted his commitment to power-sharing and his aversion to direct rule (which is the only alternative), Peter Robinson may be in a better position to progress these issues."
Failure to move now, when the circumstances are right, when the costs of inaction are high, and when the DUP has no rational reason to delay, will look like weakness and indecisiveness. Increasingly the DUP's fear of progress looks like a fear of the TUV, and the fact that a significant party can be paralysed by fear of a micro-group says much about the lack of confidence or political maturity of the DUP.
Move now, Mr Robinson. Accept the loss of face that your move will inevitably bring. It is part of political and personal maturity to admit that you are wrong. And on many issues you are wrong. But if you want to move Northern Ireland beyond the current stalemate, and into an era of cooperation and progress, then you must compromise. You must bite your tongue when nationalist-friendly measures are adopted, and you must finally accept that your nationalist neighbours have the right to see their culture, their aspirations, and their beliefs promoted.