That's another fine mess you've gotten me into,' quipped David Trimble with black humour as he bounded in to meet with Paul Murphy, the Northern Ireland Secretary, in the Lady Grey Room at Hillsborough Castle last Saturday. As well he might: for the first time, Ian Paisley's anti-Agreement Democratic Unionists had won more seats than the moderate Ulster Unionists in a Stormont election.
The drift away from the parties of the centre ground in last Wednesday's poll was even more dramatic on the nationalist side, where Gerry Adams's Sinn Fein inflicted a 'Redmond moment' upon the Social Democratic and Labour party led by Mark Durkan.
Have you noticed that whenever there is an armed siege these days the police quickly seal off the area, surround the site with at least 20 marksmen, send for the trained negotiators and, um ...wait until the victim is good and dead before they venture in to have a peek at what's going on?
I expect that's probably a gross oversimplification ' and one which will have police commanders up and down the country in an apoplexy of rage.