Despite everything – particularly the salacious revelations about Iris Robinson's private life and apparent financial dealings – the two governments remain firm on the need for rapid progress on the transfer of policing and justice.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen yesterday said:
"I welcome [Peter Robinson's] decision to continue to work on the crucial issue of devolution of policing and justice and his commitment to a successful resolution." […] "… I also fully recognise the duty of everyone, including the two governments, to protect the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement and to ensure that they continue to develop and to serve the community. I believe it is now essential that there is swift progress, in the coming days, on the devolution of policing and justice. That is in the interests of all of the parties and all of the people they represent."
Note 'in the coming days' … not in six weeks time, or after the Westminster elections.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in a statement reported by the BBC today said:
"I urge all politicians in Northern Ireland, whatever the turbulence of recent events, to remain focused on the business of government, and to recognise the crucial importance of intensifying engagement in those issues which remain to be solved."
'Those issues which remain to be solved' can, of course, be summed up in two words – policing and justice.
There is simply nowhere else for the DUP to run. They have painted themselves further and further into a corner, losing friends and confusing observers. They picked a battle that they thought was winnable, but it isn't. No-one supports their position, outside the predictable tribalists of the TUV and the UUP. The rest of the world simply sees an increasingly irrational reactionary party struggling to avoid the inevitable. The DUP would do themselves, and the whole of Northern Ireland, a favour by swallowing this and moving on. Frankly, from their point oif vies, compared with sharing power with Sinn Féin, it is a small step. Take it now.