It is no coincidence that today is Groundhog Day in Northern Ireland when the past returns as both present and future.

What we are hearing is that DUP leader Peter Robinson signed on to a deal on policing, justice and parades but then found that over one third of his parliamentary party opposed him.

No surprise there. In their day Ian Paisley and David Trimble had to shake off such backwoodsmen in order to draw Northern Ireland into the twenty-first century.

Robinson may not be as lucky however. He is already weakened by the political scandal surrounding his wife. Now he has done a deal with Sinn Fein that there is no further room for negotiation on.

Ulster says no is still a delightful refrain for the ears of DUP backbenchers who fail to understand the past and are intent on repeating it in their rush to utter irrelevance.

If they walk away from this deal the DUP will catch all the blame and Robinson's leadership will be deeply in doubt.

Once again Sinn Fein will have negotiated a position that has caused a split in unionism.You'd think the unionists would figure that once in a while and come to terms with reality rather than running back to the past.

Groundhog Day indeed.

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