There was a time when we would all share a collective sigh of relief at the end of another election campaign and take a moment to relish the thought that it was at least another year before the madness would start anew.

Now it brings a sense of unease because we’re all more than aware that the next one could be sprung on us at a moment’s notice. It’s getting to the point where I’m afraid to check the news when I get up in the morning in case something has been triggered overnight.

Elections are funny old things. No matter how much you try to gauge public opinion, it’s nearly impossible to predict the outcome with any level of certainty. We’re all human after all and we can lie when responding to opinion polls or change our minds at the very last second.

We might keep our opinions to ourselves or cause a riot around the family dinner table with an unpopular view.

Nevertheless, I don’t think there were too many people predicting that we would be left with a hung parliament with only the DUP in a position to get things moving. I surely didn’t anyway.

It did come as something of a surprise because my feeling is that the DUP should be focussing on getting things sorted out here rather than deciding to take up a pivotal role in the government of the United Kingdom. It just feels like they’re doing things the wrong way around. They are a party focused on these six counties – their slogan is “let’s keep Northern Ireland moving forward” not “let’s sort out the whole country” or anything like that.

When their members stand for election, it’s because they want to represent the views of their constituents first and then the views of the wider Northern Irish community. They’re not getting up from their green seats and trying to attract the attention of The Speaker in order to raise a matter for wee Fergus in the Outer Hebrides who thinks that the price of the ferry should be lowered to attract more tourists. Quite frankly, they don’t care about tourism in Scotland. They’re there to speak on behalf of the local business down the road that is starting to think of relocating because of high corporation tax.

Yet here we are. The whole country is now depending on a party that they probably hadn’t heard of a week ago. We make up a paltry three percent of the total UK population, can have up to eighteen people representing us and yet Northern Ireland suddenly has this ultimate power.

The DUP website crashed on Friday after thousands all tried to access it to find out exactly who the party were and what they stood for. Quite a few of those people were likely UK based journalists who had drawn the short straw and had just been given the task of writing an informative piece on the party.

It’s been almost comical to watch the rest of the United Kingdom learn about Northern Ireland and its eccentricities. We’ve always been known for being a little difficult at times and most people are at least aware of the dark recent history of the land but that’s probably about as far as their knowledge goes.

They’re looking over at us and suddenly realising that the rights that they have come to expect such as the right to terminate a pregnancy and the right to marry a person of the same sex are rights that do not cross the water.

They’re shocked at how divided we are as a society, using things like religion to belittle and attack our fellow citizen. Those in the UK will think of the likes of ISIS when they think of terrorism as something like domestic terrorism just isn’t really a thing and yet aspects of it are still making headlines on a nearly daily basis here. I was recently talking with a group online and those in Scotland, England and Wales were quite panicked at seeing police officers with guns roaming around their polling stations on Thursday and yet it doesn’t really faze us as we’ve grown up knowing that all PSNI officers openly carry a loaded weapon.

I don’t think that there is any doubt that we’re soon going to see confirmation of a Conservative-DUP alliance if not a formal coalition, but I think that leaves us in a bit of a state of limbo. As leader of the DUP, Arlene Foster is going to have to be involved at Westminster despite her not actually being an MP. She is also going to be needed at the next round of talks at Stormont Castle as the ever-decreasing number of optimists amongst us are hoping that the deadline at the end of the month will actually be the final one and the Assembly can get up and running once again. The obvious problem is that no matter how hard she tries, Arlene cannot be in both places at once and something is going to have to give.

I’m worried that it’s going to be the local politics left to suffer. The DUP have the upper hand no matter which way you look at it now. If we want a devolved government again, then Sinn Fein are going to have to step over their red lines and get on with actually doing what we all want them to do. If they don’t then we could be back to direct rule from Westminster: the same Westminster that the DUP now have huge influence in.

The election brought highs and lows and they’re still coming days later. The one good thing that is coming out of all of this is that people on the mainland are finally starting to pay attention to us and are learning about how different life can be in different parts of the one country. There are already groups in England planning marches on our behalf to try and bring our abortion and marriage laws up to par although they haven’t quite realised that these have been going on for years to no avail.

There is one thing that makes me giggle with all of this and that is the timing. In about a month, we’ll be enjoying a bank holiday that the rest of them aren’t getting. There will be scores of people looking towards us and wondering why all of a sudden orange sashes are in fashion and why people are lining the streets to watch whilst wearing flags.

They’ll think it’s just another little quirk until dusk comes and the first hints of trouble start in the outskirts of Belfast. They’ll panic while the rest of us roll our eyes at the annual display of idiotic behaviour hoping it doesn’t go on too long this time. All the while, in newsrooms across England, there will be journalists sitting with their heads in their hands trying to work out what on earth is going on. Half of us don’t quite understand why it happens, so I do wish them luck. Perhaps they should start the research sooner rather than later.