Britain must move
Peter Mandelson's insistence this week of his inability to reverse the Trimble veto on Sinn Féin participation in North-South meetings stands in stark contrast to his intervention on unionism's behalf on the issue of flag flying at Stormont.
It was also revealing of the hypocritical and partisan attitude of the British Government towards the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.
Mandelson is prepared to renege on his own promise not to intervene in the workings of the Six-County institutions when it comes to the charade of unionist tribalism asserting itself with a Union Jack. However, on the entirely more substantive issue of Sinn Féin ministers, and the thousands of people they represent, being disenfranchised from their supposedly inclusive institutions, Mandelson's hands are suddenly tied.
This is despite Trimble's stated intention to create a crisis, suspend the political institutions and manipulate circumstances so that republicans are blamed.
Peter Mandelson is quick to lecture republicans, but it is his government that has failed those who voted for the Agreement on human rights and policing legislation and on the vital issue of demilitarisation. And these failures are now coming to a head.
In the coming weeks, the Police Bill will be finalised by British politicians at Westminister. They are likely to overrule the aspirations of 2 million Irish people and the painstaking work of the Patten Commission.
The Patten recommendations failed to meet the demand of republicans for the abolition of the RUC. But they did, and still do, represent a compromise, a starting point that could offer the basis for an agreed and just future for policing.
The British government committed itself in the Agreement to implementing the Patten recommendations. It has patently reneged on that commitment, again to pander to unionists.
It is not just republicans and nationalists who must fulfil their obligations to the Agreement.