The DUP and SDLP initially worked on their opposition roles tentatively. This produced a mixed and confused message as the first main opposition day was trumpeted as a victory yet saw the two parties with varying approaches to the issues. Since this they have coordinated a great deal and have even had the sight of Colum Eastwood at the UUP conference. It is the present revelations of the Cash for Ash scandal which is galvanising the two parties into a much more serious prospect of an opposition - The two parties sense the need to hold the DUP to account for this monumental failure of government. This is something they both agree on which helps them form a combined effort in their approach.
There is no doubt a lot to gain for the opposition parties. They are now not in the executive which is indeed tainted by scandal and has an air of incompetence. They stand to gain from this in reputation. The UUP can indeed in future perhaps gain seats as the previously unstoppable DUP juggernaut has shown itself to indeed be vulnerable. Only in November the DUP were claiming UUP scalps as defectors crossed into their ranks. Perhaps the tide may turn in the UUP's favour
However, the UUP and SDLP must understand that they cannot be wholly absolved from this scandal. They were in the Executive when this was being decided. They were present at committee meetings into this and could and should have asked questions regarding this. Was this a failure of scrutiny and a failure of accountability which the NI Assembly as a whole needs to ask questions about?