It's beginning to look like there will, after all, be Conservative candidates contesting next year’s Assembly elections in Northern Ireland.
Whether this first Stormont sortie can provide a solid base, on which to build for subsequent outings, depends not only upon support and resources proving forthcoming from CCHQ, but also upon the party mustering local candidates and a local identity with which to imbue national Tory politics.
If the Conservatives in Northern Ireland are embarking upon a sustained push to raise their profile and attract voters, they would do well to learn from the lessons with which their counterparts in Scotland are currently grappling. There the party is struggling to match its national revival and to come to terms with life ‘post devolution’.
O’Neill highlights the Sanderson Report which is attempting to come to grips with the Scottish Tories’ difficulties.
Throughout Britain the national parties are struggling to reconcile broader UK themes with devolved politics in the nations and the regions. It's a hugely complicated task, but it's vital that they try.