The IRA delivered what may turn out to be its biggest ever bombshell when it announced that complete decommissioning of its arms, ammunitions and explosives had been completed in accordance with a schedule and verification process agreed with the British and Irish governments.
Gerry Adams was probably right when he said that everyone would need a bit of time in order to get their heads around the enormity of it all I know I certainly do!
Most people are saying thanks be after all the ceasefire is over 11 years old and the bare political facts of life dictate that the IRA was never going to go back to war. Not only do the conditions that spawned the Provos in 1970 not exist today, nor do the conditions that nourished them throughout the '70s and the '80s, but even the conditions that brought about the temporary and limited resumption of conflict following Canary Wharf, even they are absent today.
So the hidden arsenal only really served as a bargaining tool, and an excuse for Unionist intransigence. And while Unionists demands for decommissioning as an indicator of the defeat of the IRA inevitably delayed the process of complete decommissioning, it is also true to say that the more decommissioning was postponed, the more it depreciated on the Peace Process stock exchange.
Had what happened this week taken place four or five years ago had it been timed to coincide with the start of the Stormont Assembly who knows what situation we would be in now.
Following the PR disasters of the Northern Bank robbery, the money laundering allegations on foot of the Garda witch-hunt, and the tragedy of the McCartney murder, this week's announcement was the only route liable bring the Republican movement back on to the moral high ground.
The IRA hand was forced, the Sinn Féin hand was forced and you always get less for your product when you have to sell into a buyers' market.
At the same time, however, removing the IRA from the arena of Irish political conflict was quite a feat and the Republican leadership remain confident that the deal worked out with the British behind that revolutionary move will be well worth it.
Most Unionists welcome the IRA decommissioning, no matter what Ian Paisley says. Look at it logically: the Provos say they have banjaxed the lot. But even if they only destroyed half of their arsenal, two thirds or three quarters or whatever, wouldn't that in itself be a cause for some celebration within the Unionist community. And anyway, whether it is 100% decommissioning or not does not make that much difference.
The IRA have said they are finished, so finished they are. It's politics only for the Republican movement from now on.
James Molyneaux, of course, saw it coming over 10 years ago.
He said that the IRA ceasefire was the biggest ever threat to the security of Northern Ireland, and he was right. The next thing the DUP will demand is that Republican stop being Republicans.
Because Unionism is dead set against the Republican ideal, not the methods. It's the end they object to rather than the means. Just because Republicans are now happy to turn away from political violence for ever does not mean that they are still not going to do their best to bring about a 32 county, socialist, democratic republic of equals.
If you think Paisley was mad against Sinn Féin-IRA taking part in government, what do you think he and his party are going to say when a former IRA leader and convicted prisoner becomes the Minister for Justice at Stormont and takes control of the policing boards?
How much more will unreconstructed Unionist nay-sayers demand decommissioning when young, Republican men and women from Ardoyne, the New Lodge, Ballymurphy, Andytown, Crossmaglen and and all points West of the Bann join the PSNI and avail themselves of all the state-of-the-art weaponry, not to mention top-notch training programmes to learn how to use them.
Imagine the streets of the North being policed by local people, about half of whom are working politically and culturally for a United Ireland and many of them speaking Irish, playing hurling and voting for Sinn Féin.
Let's not lose the run of ourselves here.
The IRA announcement has left an open landscape in which everything is possible. We still need an accommodation with Unionism, and Unionism is still in refusnik mode.
The DUP might say even talking about a United Ireland is sectarian, divisive and alienating, they might demand that a future referendum on the constitutional status of the North should require a seventy-five per cent majority for change, rather than the fifty per cent plus one envisaged in the Good Friday Agreement, they might demand that the British government puts off such a referendum for 50 years.
But other Unionists might recognise that accommodation does not mean Republicans stop being Republicans.
Accommodation means compromise, and change is inevitable. My guess is that the tide might start flowing back towards a revamped UUP again. . .