DUP, the Grand Old Dukes of York.

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Peter Robinson is outraged that welfare cuts aren’t being implemented in the north. Speaking yesterday he said that:

In our discussions, the Prime Minister was absolutely clear that there is no more room for manoeuvre on welfare reform. Now is the time to decide this issue. The days of republican ducking and diving are over.

In brief, the Assembly doesn’t have to impose the proposed cuts the Tories want implemented as it has devolved powers and can introduce amended legislation (eg see an overview from last October). The DUP have been adamant that the cuts be imposed, with Robinson and Martin McGuinness clashing over false claims made by the First Minister back in April. On that occasion Robinson bizarrely claimed Sinn Féin and McGuinness had agreed to the cuts only for it to be scuppered by Gerry Adams. The depth of opposition in Sinn Féin to the cuts might be better reflected in Danny Morrison pointing out a couple of days ago that he reckons the Assembly will fall over the issue.

The DUP’s support for the welfare cuts has no doubt been galvanised by the odd flash of orange knickers with which the Tories have been grooming them. It will also act as a barrier to any significant movement on any local issue since the DUP will attempt to both leverage further dominance of unionism/loyalism through flaunting possible links to the Tories, and continue to refuse to engage in any meaningful ways on street level issues. All this despite the fact that even Edward Carson belatedly recognised the corroding influence of British politics on Ireland:

What a fool I was! I was only a puppet, and so was Ulster, and so was Ireland, in the political game that was to get the Conservative Party into Power

The deepest irony here, though, lies in the DUP’s treatment of those who would suffer most after welfare cuts. Deprivation and disadvantage crosses the community divide in the north and many areas where loyalism finds strong support would be considerably impacted by cuts. Those also happen to be the areas where the DUP is waving its own orange card around the loudest. Last night, North Belfast MLAs William Humphrey and Nelson McCausland were prominent at a protest outside Tennent Street PSNI station where members of the Pride of Ardoyne band were being questioned about breaches of Parade Commission determinations. This appears to be a shift in DUP policy, since Sinn Féin protesting at the PSNI over Gerry Adams arrest were criticised by Peter Robinson:

The protest action taken by Sinn Féin is unacceptable in any democratic country operating under the rule of law… They [the PSNI] must be completely free to follow any and all evidence regardless of where it takes them and to decide free of political considerations whether suspects will be charged or not.

That Gerry Adams arrest had also, by complete and utter coincidence, happened while the DUP and the Tories were, by pure chance, at a party in Number 10 drinking red lemonade and eating digestives. Coincidentally, too, one of the DUP’s MLA’s in attendance at last night’s protest, Nelson McCausland, has come back into the spotlight this morning over his links to contractors and housing maintenance contracts.

The contrast between the zeal of unionist/loyalist protests over identity issues and the apparent apathy of the protesters towards the economic/social policies of the DUP are a tribute to the party. But a society that wastes so much bloody time and energy on flags and symbols is clearly broken. And a broken society is just what unionism needs of loyalism. With the DUP doing it’s best to flirt with the Tories, those caught up in the cycle of street-level protests and antagonism over issues of identity will continue to provide convenient cover for the socio-economic policies of the DUP while they let themselves be wasted as cannon-fodder, like their beloved Ulster Division in the Somme in 1916.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Welfare reform is necessary, when some people can earn more unemployed simply via their ability to reproduce then there is an issue.

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    Robinson was whingeing about the parades commission making decisions about parades based on prior violence but what he really meant was the PC should only cave in to loyalist violence in arriving at rulings. how does Robbo keep a straight face?

  • Mick Fealty

    Ah but John, you are wrong in one very important particular.

    Robinson has claimed McGuinness helped shape the deal OFMdFM (joint office, remember?) got, but then failed to elicit the support of his own party.

    The BBC last night were reporting that SF’s failure to sign up to the Robinson/McGuinness deal is going to cost a cool £100 million per year for the next three years.

    The only deal Labour is thinking about doing is cutting out the bedroom tax (which is already covered by the Robinson McGuinness deal). Nothing else is guaranteed.

    King Knut was trying to teach his people an important lesson when he ordered the tide to turn on his command. Something apparently missed by the SF leadership.

    It will do nicely as a not so cheap (£100 million) talking point for the next election though. It’s a very high maintenance opposition-in-government operation they run. ;-)

  • Mick Fealty

    [Note to Gentlemen and Ladies of the Press: Could no one just 'do' them on a rap of joint enterprise?]

  • John Ó Néill

    Mick, Robinson ‘claimed’ is not the same as ‘it actually happened’. That £100 million figure has been around for a while now. Are the DUP going to barter it away as part of a deal with the Tories or blindly implement the cuts and cut a deal on political cover to fly flags from every lampost itsead?

    Note the Danny Morrison tweet, though.

  • socaire

    Joe, why not come straight out and suggest that all taigs should be sterilised? Very cost efficient and would negate the harmful corrosive effects of the Free Education and NHS provision which was vigorously contested by the rulers of this one party orange statelet when they were introduced by a British Labour govt. Far thinkers saw the trouble it would bring to the British community in Ireland.

  • Reader

    Joe_Hoggs: Welfare reform is necessary,…
    That is a matter of opinion, and the populist parties on the hill are not going to agree with you too loudly.
    The real issue here is that the money has been cut from Westminster, and Stormont, unable to spend money it hasn’t got, is making up the shortfall by emergency cuts in other departments. So “fighting the welfare cuts” means, e.g. sacking teachers from temporary contracts.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Reader,

    The real issue here is that the money has been cut from Westminster, and Stormont, unable to spend money it hasn’t got.

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    If this is the case then why are departments returning significant parts of their budget unspent?

  • Delphin

    SF cannot be seen to implement ‘austerity’ measures in N. Ireland as it would adversely affect their electoral prospects in the Republic – hence Mr Morrison’s tweet.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    socaire,

    Joe, why not come straight out and suggest that all taigs should be sterilised? Very cost efficient and would negate the harmful corrosive effects of the Free Education and NHS provision which was vigorously contested by the rulers of this one party orange statelet when they were introduced by a British Labour govt. Far thinkers saw the trouble it would bring to the British community in Ireland.

    —————————————————————————

    What on earth are you talking about?

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Delphin,

    SF cannot be seen to implement ‘austerity’ measures in N. Ireland as it would adversely affect their electoral prospects in the Republic – hence Mr Morrison’s tweet.

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    Hence the power is in the south and Sinn Fein are NOT acting in the interests of the people of NI although that’s an oxymoron.

  • Mick Fealty

    John, I chose my words very carefully. :-) The one durable and indisputable fact which remains is that Robbo did not get that deal purely under his own aegis…

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “The BBC last night were reporting that SF’s failure to sign up to the Robinson/McGuinness deal is going to cost a cool £100 million per year for the next three years.”

    The finance minister has warned of a billion pound reduction to Northern Ireland’s budget if welfare reforms are not passed by Stormont.

    Simon Hamilton also said that 1,500 civil service jobs could be lost.

    Mr Hamilton said: “We have already lost £15m this year. Over a billion pounds will be lost in the next five years in penalties from treasury if we don’t proceed on welfare reform.” .. BBC source 16 Mar 2014

  • Joe_Hoggs

    1500 Civil Service jobs lost? One is tempted to side with Sinn Fein then.

  • socaire

    Welfare reform is necessary, when some people can earn more unemployed simply via their ability to reproduce then there is an issue.
    Who are you referring to in the ‘province’,Joe. Surely not the lost tribe?

  • Joe_Hoggs

    socaire ,

    You are clearly trolling, it is clear I am making a sweeping statement about all unemployed people who can work yet earn more on benefits.

  • socaire

    Joe , if I can get 200GBP not working and 120GBP working, my first duty is to my family so I opt for the higher sum. And how does cutting benefits get people out of the poverty trap? What you said was that people with big families (taigs) should not be better off than people who work (prods). Who’s that trip tropping over my bridge?

  • Mick Fealty

    Have you ever had to live on benefits socaire? Anyone talking about ‘disposable income’ on benefits needs a spell on the dole, preferably bringing a couple of kids on their own.

  • Comrade Stalin

    socaire,

    Joe didn’t say anything of the sort. The problem where young women are getting pregnant in order to get on the housing ladder is a cross-community one. I’m not sure that the benefit reforms will do anything to address it, though.

    John,

    Danny Morrison’s tweet noted, but I wonder how the institutions coming down over this would work for SF except to get them off the hook.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Comrade Stalin,

    Joe didn’t say anything of the sort. The problem where young women are getting pregnant in order to get on the housing ladder is a cross-community one. I’m not sure that the benefit reforms will do anything to address it, though.

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    Yes I know all too many Protestant people who fit into this criteria, it is certainly a cross community issue – at least we’re not completely divided.