Since the IRA first called its ceasefire in 1994 to allow talks with the British, unionists have come up with excuse after excuse to avoid real change in the North.
For them, this has proved a fruitful tactic. Reform of policing came late and in watered-down form. Unionists still dominate overwhelmingly the decision-making levels of the public service. Catholics are still twice as likely to be unemployed as Protestants. There is still no Irish tricolor flying alongside the Union Jack on public buildings.
The latest government construction plans for the North, drawn up by the unionist civil service and approved by Britain, will in effect starve nationalist areas of the economic infrastructure they need to succeed for at least the next 15 or 20 years. The justification for this is that the plan bolsters existing infrastructure — all of which was installed when unionist bigotry did not even have to disguise itself.
The two governments have been extremely careful not to upset unionist sensibilities in the run-up to the Nov. 14 deadline, believing they could persuade Ian Paisley’s DUP to share power voluntarily.
But as the clock ticks down, the Irish government in particular has an obligation to its citizens North of the border. If the unionists once again say “no,” then full equality must be imposed on the North from Dublin.