THERE’S not a day goes by without the DUP showing in spades its utter inability to accept – never mind come to terms with – the rapidly changing political, social and demographic changes that are reshaping not only this corner of our island, but the entire United Kingdom.

Four parties met Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney on Wednesday to discuss the Protocol. The DUP refused to attend, citing “diary commitments” – a deliberately preposterous excuse designed to insult and denigrate not only Mr Coveney and the government he represents, but the other parties who are are desperate to find a way back to work in the middle of a crippling cost of living crisis.

The message intended by the snub is clear: only the bad faith Protocol Bill that new British Prime Minister Liz Truss says she’s still determined to push through will suffice for the DUP. That may well be what they want Dublin, London and Brussels to hear, but the message that goes out loud and clear to the rest of us is that the party is so utterly bereft of strategy and direction that it is willing to sit back once again and rely on a Tory government to ride to their rescue – even as they still nurse the bruises from the recent kickings handed to them by the self-same Tories. And it is so uncertain of its own argument, so mistrustful of its own ability to debate and persuade, that it has detached itself from the business of normal politics and sub-contracted its future to a government which has time and again displayed nothing but disdain for them.

And it’s not even as if the prevailing political conditions are sufficiently conducive to give the DUP confidence that the Bill will go through, never mind proceed to implementation. There is, at best for the DUP, growing concern about the Bill among front and back bench Tories; at worst, outright hostility. The Lords, meanwhile, has been sending an increasingly loud and clear message – from all sides of the chamber – that it is going to cause a world of trouble when the Bill reaches committee stage.

Meanwhile, the mood music between Dublin and London has been immensely improved in the wake of the extraordinarily conciliatory apology issued by NIO Minister and former Brexit hard man Steve Baker, followed up by a selfie with senior Dublin officials in which good cheer and optimism appear to be the order of the day.

The warnings are sounding as loud as a tanker foghorn on Belfast Lough: there are moves afoot in London to get the Protocol problem out of the way – and pronto. It appears that the DUP are the only ones who can’t hear them. Ms Truss may well be speaking the truth when she promises that the Protocol Bill is still a political priority for her even as the prospect of an EU-UK deal has never seemed closer. But not just in her short time as PM, but right through her political career, Ms Truss has shown a ruthless willingness to do whatever it takes to further Liz Truss.

The DUP’s inability to learn from repeated British betrayals is looking less like political incompetence and more like cultural cringe.