MICHELLE O’Neill, Northern Ireland’s first ever First Minister from the nationalist, republican tradition, immediately called for a Gaza ceasefire, echoing Humza Yousaf, Stephen Flynn and others internationally demanding peace.

The nationalists now share power unimagined by past generations: “the days of second-class citizenship are long gone,” FM O’Neill said, but there must also be respect for “the British, Unionist traditions” which “cherish the Union”.

As a gesture of good faith, FM O’Neill attended both the late Queen’s funeral and the coronation; I’m confident that she will be sending the same good wishes for the King’s speedy recovery that I also extend to the King and Queen.

Without diminishing the “decades of shame and suffering of Tory austerity”, Michelle O’Neill calls for people not to “forget and move on”, but to “move forward, together”. Those who recognise Ireland’s own troubled history will wish her well.

The Windsor Framework resolved unintended (or carelessly disregarded) Brexit consequences. Northern Ireland now gets dual access to both the UK’s internal market and the EU, a ‘best-of-both-worlds’ status Scotland enjoyed before Brexit.

The Department for Business and Trade trumpeted post-Brexit successes characterised as “a resounding vote of confidence in the United Kingdom’s future [and] prosperity as a free, independent, sovereign nation. The British people’s conviction that the UK would excel as masters of our own fate has paid dividends”. How many in East Lothian identify now as more prosperous, more free and independent – and more confident about the UK – than they felt in 2016, or indeed 2014?

The Covid Inquiry is sitting in Edinburgh and again I offer condolences to East Lothian’s elderly and young people, and to those who faced isolation, loneliness, fear, illness and bereavement during the pandemic: their suffering will never be forgotten.

Nicola Sturgeon expressed grief, bitter regrets at decisions, and raw pain from shouldering the burden. Nicola’s political enemies exercised their right brutally to malign and belittle her contribution but Douglas Ross’s claim that constitutional questions undermined Scottish Government focus on the pandemic collapses under rudimentary scrutiny.

Holyrood’s database records that since 1999, the term ‘referendum’ (devolution, Brexit, independence) was used 5,866 times. By contrast, ‘pandemic’ and ‘Covid’ were mentioned 28,930 times (2020-2024). Their obsession with the SNP’s constitutional position blinds Unionists to historical realities.