The two-year impasse is finally over, however, now the real test of democracy begins.

For most people and me, the news that a deal had been reached was a welcome note to hear after the exhausting two-year-long symphony of disappointment and frustration we have all had to endure.

The DUP stranglehold over politics here has indeed been deeply felt by all of us. However, at a time of an enormous cost of living crisis, with malfunctioning public services and mistreated and underpaid workers being forced to take to the streets, it cut right to the bone.

The refusal of the DUP to listen to the public anger may well cause the party to fall on its own sword, with disunity and chaos now rampant inside the ranks, it is clear that all is not well within the DUP.

Some glimpse of leadership finally prevailed as Jeffrey Donaldson stood up to the delusional voices within unionism by announcing the end of the DUP’s blockade on the power-sharing executive.

However, this is certainly a case of too little too late, as many people have long made up their minds as to the true reasons behind the two-year stagnation caused by Jeffrey and other leaders of unionism.

Namely, the reluctance of the DUP to accept the outcome of the election as well as a nationalist First Minister, and the genuine concern that unelected voices with no mandate are pulling the strings.

Even worse, it also appears that loyalist criminal gangs are attempting to hold this place to ransom, with shameful and unacceptable threats having been made against people’s lives, including Jeffrey Donaldson.

These undemocratic voices and deranged figures with a false illusion of grandeur have absolutely no place in our society and should not be amplified.

It is right and proper that the elected representatives return to Stormont and get to work allocating the desperately needed funds. 

There is no more time to waste as enough harm has already been done to the people here. It is not exactly clear what the DUP wanted; however, we are used to fudge when it comes to politics here and at least this deal allows things to move again.

This return to Stormont will be very different indeed. There must be an acceptance that things have changed forever. A change that unionism likely never envisioned, the reality that a nationalist leader will be the First Minister, and that the public is increasingly shifting away from unionism in favour of more progressive and vibrant ideas.

The partition of Ireland in 1921 was carefully designed to ensure that there would be a permanent in-built unionist majority in the six northeastern counties of the island, yet 100 years later and this is no longer the case.

The last of the colonial Penal laws which banned the use of the national language for over 300 years, is now being undone. History is correcting itself, and this new generation’s demand for a more inclusive society not wrapped up in the nonsense of identity politics is louder than the old familiar cries of “no surrender.”

Nothing can hold back the tides of change and time waits for no one.

I believe that we are witnessing the beginning of a new direction in which a united Ireland is undeniably the ultimate end destination. This of course will mean challenges along the way; however, the writing is on the wall.

The support for a unity referendum is growing, every test has been met and planning is already underway for the eventuality of a new Ireland.

If decisions are going to be taken in the best interest of all the people here, then the DUP and indeed all unionist parties will have to seriously consider how they will adapt, just as unionists have always adapted before.

It was the hero of unionism Edward Carson, whose statute now stands in front of Stormont who described himself as an Irishman, who spoke Irish and who also played Gaelic games growing up.

So, identity is not as straightforward as some unionist politicians would have you believe, and there will be a continuous journey for everyone living on this island to define themselves. 

Nobody can be sure how long Stormont will survive, or whether another impasse will come, but it seems that the vast majority here are no longer willing to support toys being thrown out of the pram.

Leadership, tolerance and goodwill are what the public expects in a modern age, and a focus on serious issues such as the economy, health education and housing instead.

Despite the challenges that lie ahead, we can be hopeful for what the future has in store.

Change is coming whether the main unionist parties want to admit it or not and burying the heads in the sand will no longer suffice. It would be a foolish failure of leadership and vision to continue down the road that the DUP have gone down.

The Good Friday Agreement stands firm, that historic and universally acclaimed piece of paper carries the hopes and dreams of many people here and it has proven to have stood the test of time.

Its core principles, the right of people living here to decide their own destiny and parity of esteem must be respected and upheld, and that must be the basis for moving forward.

Time will only tell.