DUP's Windsor Framework failure merely another entry in weary litany of unionism's political pratfalls
The Irish News view: It is a desperate shame that the path to a brighter future has been a 25-year tale of one step forward, two steps back. We all deserve better
WHEN the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement was marked in April, the various celebratory events were overshadowed by the unavoidable reality that power-sharing – perhaps the central achievement of the 1998 deal – was broken.
That continues to be the case, with the DUP's petulant boycott of Stormont now almost reaching into its 20th long month of inflicting harm on our public services.
It is striking that Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and the DUP have achieved nothing in that time. Talks with the government are supposed to have made "significant progress" but these are empty words. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, speaking to UTV on Thursday, insisted there has been "intensive dialogue". Talking is good, Mr Sunak, but action would be better.
Why Sir Jeffrey did not pocket the changes to the NI Protocol secured by the Windsor Framework and even attempt to claim them as a victory is merely another entry in the weary litany of unionism's political pratfalls.
In fact, the Brexit regulations the DUP want to stop are still being steadily introduced. For example, ahead of becoming mandatory from Sunday, 'Not for EU' labels have started to appear on food brought into Northern Ireland from Britain.
How the DUP reverses itself out of the dead end it has been accelerating into since it withdrew Paul Givan from the first minister's post in February 2022 is a mystery, but it remains important that it is solved.
Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill says that patience has run out with the DUP and that the British and Irish governments both need to be working to restore Stormont.
She again floated the idea of "joint stewardship", although stressed that getting the executive up and running would "always be plan A".
Ireland's Church leaders, on a visit to Rome organised by the British and Irish ambassadors to the Holy See, offered a reminder that the Good Friday Agreement's principles were based on "partnership, equality and mutual respect".
The signing of the agreement, they said, had "simply marked the first faltering steps down a very long road to a new, brighter and shared future... shaped by tolerance and respect for our differences, and a recognition of the need for greater understanding and reconciliation".
It is a desperate shame that the path to a brighter future has been a 25-year tale of one step forward, two steps back. We all deserve better.