IT'S only a few weeks since the DUP and Tories were whispering sweet nothings in each other's ears as they celebrated the consummation of their two-year courtship, which resulted in the DUP jumping back into bed with previously-jilted local political partners. 

Back then – all of a fortnight ago – there was apparently no limit to the largesse the Mother of Parliaments would bestow on its beloved province. An undying commitment to the union was underlined by a British Secretary of State who assured  love-struck loyalists that there wouldn't be any grounds for calling a referendum on Irish unity in the lifetime of even their youngest off-spring.

That was then.

This is now.

It's just a fortnight since that "momentous" Command Paper was published but the wheels have already come off the woebegone wagon on which the DUP's return to Stormont was predicated.

Far from delivering the five-star sunny uplands promised the good folk of Ulster, the British government have slapped them with a bill for their keep. And, in true loyal to the half-crown but not the crown fashion, unionists are as outraged as a lover scorned.

But it was always going to be this way. The UK is the slowest-growing of the G7 states and has the lowest productivity and the highest inflation. The sick man of Europe has found that Brexit, rather than being a tonic for its industrial health, has only worsened its austerity-battered economy. Finding funds for the North of Ireland is not, therefore, high on its agenda.

For sure, there will be smoke-and-mirrors stuff around the now-you-see-it-now-you-don't £3.3bn funds lifeline, but the bottom line is that the British don't want to fund their embarrassing unionist brethren on the other side of the Irish Sea Border nor the basket-case economy they have created.

So while the Punch and Judy show between the Stormont Executive and the British Treasury may continue over the next period, anyone who really wants to see our health, education, arts, sports and community sectors prosper needs to come up with a plan which doesn't depend on fair funding from London. 

If that plan has to start with the better-offs in society – who own homes valued at over £400,000 – paying their fair share of the rates burden, so be it. After all, when the richest in society enjoy a discount on their property taxes, it's ordinary working families who have to stump up more to ensure rates-raising targets are met. The rates cap benefiting around 8,000 homeowners was introduced in 2007 when the Executive was awash with funds. Things are quite different today and, whatever about the ongoing argument with the Brits over their piffling funding allocation to the North, it's time for this rates gift to the wealthiest in society to be scrapped.