The resignation of Arlene Foster should come as little surprise. The difficulties for political unionism, and particularly for the DUP, have been mounting for some considerable time.
After one hundred years of partition, unionism has finally run out of options, and unionists’ relationship with the British state has been downgraded, while the British have simultaneously courted and secured new forces to advance their imperial interests in Ireland, north and south.
It’s not just Brexit that has accentuated the ongoing and deepening crisis within unionism. Political unionism has little, if anything, to offer its working-class base, other than the relentless dog-whistle of sectarianism.
The DUP, like the other parties that make up the Northern Executive, has overseen more than two decades of austerity and attacks on the living standards of working people.
The NHS is on the verge of collapse. Poverty has grown, as has the number of homeless and those on housing waiting-lists.
All the Stormont parties have failed to challenge the current economic orthodoxy or meaningfully challenge the British-imposed budget restraints and fiscal priorities. They are all compliant to the greater needs of the British state.
No matter who will take over after Arlene Foster, the challenges facing both urban and rural working families as well as farming communities will not be met nor satisfied by any of the leading candidates vying to replace her.
A century on, what has become clearer with each and every crisis within unionism and within the Northern Executive is that partition has failed; it has run its course. It’s time for a new way forward for working people, from Derry to Kerry.
We need a new economic and social order with the needs of working people centre stage, a new all-Ireland democracy where working people no longer wait in line to see a doctor or secure a home, an all-Ireland democracy where our youth are guaranteed a future here at home. A better future is possible.