THIS column has for many years been spelling out the inevitability of constitutional change. It has been a long time coming and now it is happening all of a sudden. If the possibility of change can enter people’s minds then anything is possible, or even certain.

The Good Friday Agreement was an unprecedented opportunity for unionism which they never grasped. It was in their interest to co-govern this little six counties with willing political partners and build a future where the thought of change would subside and drift away. But the DUP, and the UUP, proved utterly incapable of living up to their modest obligations. And all of this is worth revisiting.

Stormont was dysfunctional for too long, with insult and ignominy to nationalism a daily occurrence. When Martin McGuinness, despite his obvious ill-health, called a halt and resigned in January 2017 over the RHI scandal, he did so having done everything to keep Stormont going for many, many years. Sinn Féin did not bring Stormont down in 2017. The DUP through its ignorance, corruption and sectarianism did.

When Martin McGuinness said the words “No return to the status quo," he was giving unionism a warning – that they were losing the hearts and minds of those whom they needed to sustain the devolved arrangements. Unionism did not understand the magnitude of those words then and still does not now. 

It became clear after Brexit that Westminster, and the English nation, were willing to make the place where we live collateral damage in their economic and suicide mission to establish some post-colonial dream state for themselves; that is, if they ever thought about us at all. Unionism did not face into the reality of that politic with willing partners in republicanism, carving a statelet still in the union, but not tied to the lemmings. Instead, they tried to tie this region to London insanity and themselves with it and now ironically think keeping Stormont down aids their cause. 

So why would anyone seeking a political future which is sustainable, human rights-cognisant and focused on the prosperity of its own people not be thinking of alternatives? Of course the population is looking to the South where you are three times less likely to leave school early, will live longer, have better health outcomes, have 14 per cent more money in your pocket and live in an economy that is producing 40 per cent more than we do in the North. The South is also in the European Union, which this population voted to remain in, advocates strongly in favour of the European Convention on Human Rights and values its position in the United Nations. Basically, it is a functioning, sane and prosperous state. 

Many Irish and British citizens are indicating that their minds are open to the changes that are coming. They are asking sensible questions about how a new state will work, and how their families’ interests will be protected. They deserve sensible answers. Just telling Irish and British citizens they will be grand isn’t enough. They need to see constitutional guarantees. 

Tactics delaying the necessary citizens' assemblies and constitutional assemblies are unreasonable and harmful given the incoming tide of change. Irish citizens on both sides of the border need structured planning now. Leo Varadkar needs to live up to his responsibilities as Taoiseach of a sovereign Ireland which will see reunification in his lifetime.