While we've all been preoccupied with Covid-19, talk about backstops and the border seemed like a distant memory from a long-settled battle. Britain's decision to leave the European Union still loomed large, of course. But negotiations between London and Brussels had long since moved to trade and the actual withdrawal was a done deal.
Boris Johnson and his ultra-Brexiteer colleagues had succeeded in unseating Theresa May and - despite the promises to the contrary - adopted the deal they had accused her of being a "Judas" for agreeing to. The Conservatives were no longer dependent on the votes of the DUP as Arlene Foster and her colleagues found themselves marooned in London, no longer the darlings of the Tory Right pulling all of the strings of those undermining Mrs May.
Politics is a fickle thing and with the parliamentary arithmetic no longer a concern, Johnson was able to deliver that which he once chanted he would "never" do - and a frictionless border between north and south was guaranteed in international law. Or so we thought.
But, yet again, the worst extremes in the Tory party have decided to use the island of Ireland - and Northern Ireland in particular - as a political football.
The announcement that they're prepared to break the law and set this agreement aside if they don't get the trade deal they demand has put the north right back at the centre of the Brexit process.
The DUP - having been infuriated by Johnson's initial decision to agree the Northern Ireland protocol - is now enthusiastic about the idea of giving the EU and Ireland a bloody nose.
It's as if they never learn and haven't yet realised that the latest U-turn is just another jigsaw piece set to wrongfoot EU negotiators. It's a dangerous game and one that reveals, for all the unionist rhetoric of the Conservatives, that Northern Ireland is really little more than a bargaining chip.
No amount of posturing from London about the importance of the peace process can hide the fact that the Tories' desire to offer red meat to the base has again split the north right down the sectarian centre.
It also comes at a time when we're preparing to mark the contentious centenary of the creation of Northern Ireland next year.
It's an anniversary replete with meaning and one that will create enough division between unionists and nationalists in the north without London adding to that once again.
I make no apology for the fact that this is personal to me and the use of Northern Ireland as a pawn is like a kick in the stomach.
When I was growing up in the north in the 1980s, our lives were marked by the wastefulness of the conflict we euphemistically called "the Troubles".
Every breakfast was marked by dark news on the radio about a sectarian murder, or a recognised codeword used to rip the heart out of another market town. My hometown - Omagh - sadly lives in infamy for the 1998 murderous explosion there.
But I mercifully came of age during the peace process. And I know that many people in the Republic are sick and tired of the words "peace process", but it has made the entire island a more liveable place, free of the darkness of sectarian murder.
My first opportunity to cast a vote was to endorse the Good Friday Agreement and politics may have made me cynical since, but I still feel emotional about that moment and the sense that I was part of choosing the future.
To see that same peace process little more than a passing thought in Westminster hurts - it really hurts.
Next year's centenary of the founding of Northern Ireland is one that will have to be handled carefully.
For many unionists, it will be a moment of celebration. For most nationalists, it will be more akin to the marking of a catastrophe.
Partition didn't just create a border on the island of Ireland, it copper-fastened division and placed northern Catholics in a state where they were, at best, a reluctant minority and, at worst, a people to be subdued.
Stormont became a byword for discrimination and oppression and people like John Hume and Seamus Mallon led the charge for equality after 50 years of suffocation.
For all of the problems in Northern Ireland, it is an infinitely better place today than the place I grew up in. To see the Tories now cynically set that aside to try to get one over Michel Barnier is an act of huge betrayal from one of the co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement.
And, it goes farther than just Northern Ireland. It's hard to see London's attitude to international law as showing anything but contempt for the island of Ireland as a whole.
We're partners, the rhetoric goes, but the moment that it appears expedient for Britain to use "the Irish", all of that goes out of the window.
We now find ourselves like the archetype of a partner in an abusive relationship trying to calm the storm while all the time the abuser gives the impression that we are the ones being unreasonable.
We have to stand firm and call this out. Putting Paddy in his place may play well in the Tory Press, but as a negotiating strategy it's reckless bullying.