George Mitchell, the former US senator and Northern Ireland peacemaker, once said of the negotiations process: "We had 700 days of failure and one day of success." Those of us of that vintage could sense his pain.
He was dealing with 10 political parties, some of which were so small that their entire elected members could have fitted into a telephone kiosk.
Mitchell told the northern parties: "In terms of finding things to disagree about, you are geniuses, great innovators, but in finding ways to resolve your differences you are like blocks of granite."
In that one line Senator Mitchell summed up the position of all political parties involved in negotiations. It is far easier to identify problems which divide than find solutions which unite.
Some politicians will dance on a pinhead rather than seek compromise. Mitchell reminded parties here that: "Neither side will get all it wanted and both sides will endure severe political pain. But there is no other way forward."
That was the deal. There was no better deal.
And so the words of Senator Mitchell still have resonance this week as the membership of three Irish political parties - Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Greens - consider whether or not to ratify the programme for government agreed during prolonged talks.
Fine Gael has the easiest rite of passage for approval through its electoral college system, which gives weighted values to various groups. Fine Gael is also riding high in the polls and is therefore more relaxed about its options in Government or in Opposition.
In Fianna Fail the stakes are somewhat higher, but Micheal Martin is likely to triumph. Bizarrely, for the first time in its history Fianna Fail has some of its members actively campaigning against having a Fianna Fail Taoiseach and ministers.
And then there is the third leg of the proposed coalition stool, the Green Party.
Eamon Ryan, its leader, is one of the nicest men in Irish politics. He is genuine, honest and speaks his mind - even if this sometimes gets him into trouble.
Ryan is one of the most experienced politicians within his party. He is a doer, not just a talker. Not only has he the experience of being in a previous coalition Government, but crucially he was also a minister.
In office he was well-regarded and effective. Energy created from wind doubled under his watch and overall renewables rose by 17%, too.
Ryan has what so many people in modern politics lack: stickability and likeability. The latter is proven by his leadership of the Green Party, which Ryan has literally resurrected from the electoral graveyard. As of the last election the party is the fourth largest in the Dail with 12 TDs.
The proposed programme for government is by far the most radical agenda for any Irish Government in the past 30 years. By its nature this is a compromise document - none of the parties get 100% of what they wanted, just as Mitchell said of the Good Friday Agreement.
But this is now a framework for real change in Ireland and the fingerprints of the Green Party negotiators are all over it.
The programme for government runs to 100 pages and includes a multi-billon euro stimulus package; the creation of 50,000 social homes; a pathway to 7% reduction in carbon emissions; increasing carbon tax; halting the construction of fossil fuel infrastructure and a ban on future exploration of gas in seas around Ireland; capital investment split in a 2:1 favour of public transport; €350m investment in walking and cycling infrastructure, and referenda on the position of women in the home and the right to housing.
This is an once in a lifetime chance for a minority party to make a lasting and transformative impact on Irish society. These chances come by once in a generation. Another general election could wipe out many of the recent Green electoral gains.
Currently the Green Party membership stands at around 3,200 across the island, with 500 of those in Northern Ireland.
The threshold for approving this quite transformative programme for government and entering a coalition to deliver on it requires two-thirds of all members. A very high bar to cross with an unique membership structure spanning two jurisdictions.
Sinn Fein may not be the only party these days struggling to balance the political interests of two jurisdictions on one island.
Still, it is difficult to rationalise the decision by the two northern Green MLAs to vote against this far-reaching programme for government.
Even Clare Bailey, the leader of the Green Party in the north, acknowledges this draft programme was "negotiated in good faith by a very committed groups of TDs".
One of those negotiators is Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin, who is currently challenging Ryan for the leadership.
Yet Ms Martin and Mr Ryan are both committed to entering the coalition Government.
Again it raises the question: what is the purpose of northern members opposing entering a coalition when they are also only voting on two potential leaders with the same positions on entering that coalition?
The northern members won't suffer the electoral consequences of a collapse of the programme for government, but can the same be said for some of their southern counterparts?
The central premise for the northern MLAs in opposing the current deal as negotiated by their own leadership was mentioned in a platform piece for the Belfast Telegraph written by Bailey. It boiled down to a simple but misconceived assertion that she "believes a better deal is possible".
As Senator Mitchell said, all deals involve political risk and sometimes even "severe pain".
But fear of taking risk and enduring political pain can paralyse some politicians into inaction.
Whilst it is not unreasonable for Green Party members like Bailey and Rachel Woods to be cautious, it does not advance the green agenda to take this opportunity to transform not only Government policy, but societal change by opting out and waiting for someone else.
And that is exactly what Bailey said in her platform piece - rejecting the draft programme and voting against entering a coalition - she concluded: "It's time for the parties that promised positive change earlier this year to step up and deliver."
Former American President Barack Obama once reminded everyone: "Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."
This is why the northern leadership of the Green Party is wrong and why Ryan and Catherine Martin are right to ask their members across the island to be the change they seek to be - right now.
The alternative is to remain a block of granite.