So much for the new normal, when we supposedly emerge from the Covid pandemic with a changed, fresher more positive outlook on life.

If that’s happening in our lives generally, somebody would need to tell the politicians.

Over the past week or so, we’ve reverted back to the sort of Stormont crisis that has bedevilled the power-sharing Executive on and off for the 22 years of its existence since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

Ostensibly the latest row was about the numbers attending the funeral of veteran Republican Bobby Storey, but it has the feeling of something much more fundamental. An appropriate analogy is that our Assembly is a bit like a patient with underlying health conditions, so that when Covid hits, it becomes critical.

Whether it proves to be fatal remains to be seen, but as angry as other parties appear to be it looks as though the Assembly will survive.

There are, though, a couple of major ailments which really need to be addressed to leave the patient in better shape to face the future.

The main chronic problem is the serious lack of accountability in the system, something which I often refer to within public life generally in Northern Ireland. The other is more of a psychological one, the attitudes in the relationship between the community representatives of the two identities.

More of those underlying conditions later, but first to the immediate symptoms caused by the attendance of leading Sinn Fein figures at the Bobby Storey funeral.

In the context of Michelle O’Neill’s apparently improving relationship with Arlene Foster in dealing with Covid, and perhaps even more so the astonishingly successful election that Mary Lou McDonald had in the south, I admit to being surprised that Sinn Fein would risk progress by alienating the new support they’d gained.

In order to gain ground Sinn Fein had to garner backing beyond their traditional core support. The scenes at the Storey funeral put that at risk and, indeed, the questions resurfaced about them still being caught between a violent past and the future in which the military wing no longer held sway.

Those were the high stakes, yet the scenes at the funeral went ahead.

Why? A couple of things must be remembered. Remembering their dead is very, very deep in the psyche of Irish Republicans. And Storey, of course, was a major figure and a leader in their movement in times of their violent campaign, but also in terms of being a leading strategist in the peace process.

A relatively small number of people like him had the credentials to influence the Provisionals away from war towards peace, and his iconic status behind the scenes meant he was revered by Republicans. So when he died suddenly, the leadership faced a dilemma, and chose unwisely to give him a full-scale send-off.

I say unwisely because Michelle O’Neill, in particular, is now Deputy First Minister and like Dominic Cummings was wide open to accusations that she was making the strict lockdown rules for others while failing to obey them herself. And Assembly member Martina Anderson poured oil on the flames by saying that the Republican “family” needed Michelle there.

The use of the word family will have particularly hurt many people whose families buried their dead in some very difficult lockdown circumstances in recent weeks.

Like Cummings, this issue will start to quieten down but it remains to be seen how much damage it will do. Indeed, even within the Republican rank and file there has been some unease about recent images, at least the breaking of the lockdown rules.

We will move on and see if lessons are learned. One such lesson is how the Assembly must adapt.

It is clear that as furious as the other parties are, there is little they can do because of the way the Assembly is set up; they can huff and puff with many words and motions calling for apologies etc. but the fact is that Sinn Fein cannot be removed from office.

The only alternative is for the other parties to blow the house down, but that would be self-defeating for Unionists. Not only did it take them three years of public pressure to get the Assembly back up and running again, but they realise that the alternative could mean more input from a British Government that has let them down and an Irish Government that they ideologically differ from.

And, of course, who would deal with the continuing pandemic decisions?

The lack of accountability isn’t new, and goes deep into public life. Who was held accountable for RHI and other scandals? And in this pandemic, there has been particular focus on questions about the accountability of the decision makers within the Department of Health.

It is important to say that the Good Friday Agreement was, and remains, an important milestone in moving towards peace. It gave the two communities space to come to an accommodation where both identities were officially recognised and given a stake in a devolved share of power.

Those principles remain sound, but time moves on and there must be an upgrade in the working arrangements. Parties and Ministers on any side need to be held to account, and the clunky mechanisms shouldn’t be allowed to prevent movement on much-needed pensions for victims, for example.

It was also interesting this week to hear the new Taoiseach, Micheal Martin refer to his plan for a unit to explore the idea of a shared island, saying it’s all about relationships rather than a referendum or Border poll.

Whether or not you agree with his poll decision, there can be no doubt that relationships within Northern Ireland had been improving. But they have been damaged.

But if the Assembly and, indeed, society generally can be compared to a patient, it is suffered a setback but can be treated in such a way that it could face the future in better shape.

Some goodwill and courage in dealing with the issues is required though.