Some months back, returning to Fermanagh after a while away, I noticed that the road signs were now in two languages – Irish and English.

I’d heard that this was happening, but to witness it as I walked the roads of home was like seeing a weather map of the future.

Whether or not we see Irish unity remains to be seen. But whatever happens, the two parts of this island are going to have to transition in terms of identities.

If Ireland is to be united, it needs to recognise aspects of Britishness, and if Northern Ireland is to survive, it has to accommodate Irish identity to a greater extent.

Of course, the problem for some Unionists is that any incorporation of Irishness is equal to a dilution of Britishness.

To some – such as those in the Traditional Unionist camp – an equitable, shared Northern Ireland is probably just as awful a prospect as a united Ireland.

But something of that nature is coming. The days of division because of numbers are done, and anybody who’s done their sums can see that.

Sadly some within Loyalism appear to have lifelong symptoms of Dyscalculia – in simplified terms, a dyslexia with numbers.

Thankfully, at long last, and in a time well overdue, the Democratic Unionist Party seem to have come to their senses.

There’s nothing to be gained for Unionism by kennelling itself in the corner and constantly barking about Trojan horses and poor maligned Roger Lundy.

If Unionism is to survive as a political force, it has to be brave. If its politicians and its people really believe that Sinn Féin can never treat their Britishness with equity and respect, then put that to the test.

Unionism might actually end up being quite surprised by just how accommodating Sinn Féin may have to be.

They might actually prove very good partners in government, because there’s a lot of common ground in the work that needs doing to fix a neglected society.

Under Mary Lou McDonald, they’ve also become an increasingly pragmatic party. They’re adaptive in the moment, as highlighted by events connected to Palestinian solidarity.

The fact of going to Washington on Saint Patrick’s Day has led to criticisms of the party trying to run with both hare and hounds.

In a similar way, they seemed to ride two different horses at the same time back in 2021 when they teamed up with the DUP in Stormont to defeat a Private Member’s Bill to ban hunting with dogs.

That was in the North, but in the South they supported such a ban.

To some, that might show elements of making it up as you go along, but it’s also political pragmatism.

Though I don’t agree with such inconsistency around these issues, I see their point.

In politics, you have to play a game to keep your audience happy. If going into a GAA club in Dungiven, for example, Mary Lou McDonald probably wouldn’t make pronouncements about ‘Londonderry’.

But if she was going into the city’s Fountain Estate, a Working Class Loyalist so-called ghetto, she probably would use that word.

And that’s purely adaptation to circumstance, as well as showing respect for other traditions, and other ways of looking at the world.

That sense of mutual respect has long been missing from Stormont, which is a monumental failure of the 1998 Agreement.

But maybe now it’s hovering over the place, as a modern drone trying to break through the ancient drone of those who still say, “No, nay, never no more.”

It almost feels as if politicians here are starting to learn to bite their tongues instead of spitting out bile.

There’s a long way to go yet, but Jeffrey Donaldson has set the tone for an important breakthrough, even though this should all have been in place 18 months ago.

I suppose the threat of Direct Rule had an impact too, because this time it wouldn’t just have been rule from Westminster. There’d have been substantial input from the Republic’s government as well.

So all in all, there had to be progress, because without it, public services and so many other things would just have rotted away.

The place would have ended up like those old crumbling houses that line the roads of rural areas, reminding us that there was life there once upon a time.

Many of those roads and those houses are steeped in a rich history. And, of course, the passage of time is sad.

But as traces of one generation crumbles, shiny new houses also spring up around the old.

Stormont can be like a new house too if it wants to be. Perhaps finally it does, and maybe both sides are going in there with one shared thought.

“If the other side learns to work with us, maybe this can be the start of a long-term arrangement.”

Right now, even though in some parts of the media, it feels like the announcement of a wedding, it’s still a marriage of convenience.

Maybe you could even call it a white marriage, for economic reasons.

But the top table’s being set, and first dances planned. And very soon, just like at a family wedding, we’re going to see a whole host of characters and relatives that we’d half-forgotten.

It’ll take some planning though to make sure that they’re happy with the seating arrangements.

You wouldn’t want to place your angry Uncle Jim, for example, next to the vegetarian transgender Republican cousin.

This is a strange wedding though. Because once the ceremony’s done and seats are taken, the champagne corks or fizzy orange bottles won’t be popping.

There’s already been too much dancing around the work that needs doing to resuscitate everyday life and public services.

And there won’t be much of a honeymoon period either. But this time, it’s imperative that the partners in power keep going.

If they don’t, those road signs in two languages will have nobody to freshen them up when the rust sets in. And ... Britain’s going to get sick of the place.

I think Jeffrey knows that, and it’s why he’s gone down the sensible road. After so many false dawns, this might be the start of a shared history.