The DUP have refused to enter power-sharing in the North because they 'could not countenance' serving under Michelle O'Neill.
That's according to commentator Joe Brolly, who was speaking after Sinn Féin became the largest party in local elections in Northern Ireland.
The party, which is also the largest in the Stormont assembly, took a total 144 seats last Thursday - an increase of 39.
The DUP has refused to enter the assembly because of their unhappiness with the Brexit-related Northern Ireland Protocol.
No executive can be formed without their participation.
Mr Brolly told The Hard Shoulder the unionist community in the North is facing a crisis.
"I think what you're seeing is a community having to come to grips now with a very transformed society," he said.
"Demographics don't account for it alone.
"You see there's been a huge surge in the Sinn Féin vote away from the SDLP - and, it seems, from some of the other parties as well.
"For me the interesting thing about it has been that undercurrent of sectarianism and demonisation.
"What you had with the setting up of Northern Ireland, and then the propaganda that has existed through the century, is this sort of dehumanisation of the Northern Catholic.
"This reduction to 'breeding like rabbits' and they're subversives with the State and all that, which was very much something that was taken up in the Irish Free State".
'The future is about equality'
Mr Brolly said comments made at the weekend about the election results are "growing pains of a new society."
"All the time those old sectarian barriers are being broken - but until you understand those properly, it's very difficult to move on properly," he said.
"All the future is going to be about is about equality.
"You're now in a situation where the DUP are refusing to engage at all in politics - they are simply refusing to engage.
"Their calculation is... 'We have so completely sort of brainwashed our people, that if we start to move toward realpolitik and reaching out the hand of friendship, Jim Allister the TUV are going to start taking our ground'.
"The DUP will probably splinter into a hard-wing and a more progressive wing, and where are we going to be then?"
Mr Brolly added: "The bottom line is this: the huge factor in what the DUP have done is that they simply could not countenance serving under Michelle O'Neill.
"If was fine when Ian Paisley was the big guy, and Martin McGuinness was happy to be his lieutenant.
"It was fine all along up [until] the last sort of three or four years, and now it's not fine".
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