Northern Ireland edges towards political maturity, but |it is a slow process which could easily be derailed.
The devolved institutions are designed to perpetuate community difference and lock parties into a false consensus, rather than encourage a new, healthy, contest of ideas.
A voluntary coalition government, with cross-community safeguards, is an alternative model which attracts unionists, and even Mark Durkan, the former SDLP leader, has spoken in its favour. But it is also undeliverable in the short-term.
And the likelihood of parties withdrawing from the Executive to form an informal opposition has retreated following Alliance's acceptance of the Justice Ministry.
With the present set-up at Stormont, and UCUNF's failure to gain momentum, Northern Ireland's constitutional status is likely to remain the focus of Stormont elections for the time being.
That's bad for unionism, whose interests are best served by normalising Northern Ireland's status within the UK.
Of course, I am within the 'deadhead' tradition of commentators, who believes that it is unlikely that you can cross a horse and a donkey in order to produce a sheep.