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Douglas pulls the rug out from under Allister's feet

Just when Jim Allister, the TUV leader, was proving the worth of an Opposition at Stormont, up pops his party colleague Boyd Douglas, waving his Union flag in Limavady council chamber.

Mr Allister has a sharp lawyer's eye for the detail and has been making the TUV look pretty effective by raising points on everything from the role of special advisers to superinjunctions, up on the hill.

Mr Douglas, on the other hand, makes them look like a bunch of numpties.

He may, or may not, have a right to display a flag in the chamber. Regardless of that, the immediate effect of the gesture - at two successive council meetings - has been to defuse the row over the appointment of Sinn Fein's Sean McGlinchey as mayor.

Mr McGlinchey's apology for his involvement in a bombing in which six people died in Coleraine in the 1970s doesn't just provide an example which other ex-prisoners in political life, for instance Mary McArdle, could follow.

Coupled with Mr Douglas's attention-grabbing gesture, it also helped Mr McGlinchey to move on from the issue.

It is the very outcome you would expect if the two councillors had sat down and worked out a common approach to suit both their interests.

Come to think of it, what did Mr Douglas mean when he said that he had removed the flag because he was asked "nicely"?