Is The DUP Honeymoon Coming To An End?

A fascinating discussion on this morning’s Sunday Sequence programme focused on the developing divisions within the DUP, which appears to be splitting between a secular-political wing and a Free Presbyterian wing. [Audio link- about 30 minutes into show.] The unprecedented sight of hard-line Protestants picketing the DUP Confererence in protest at the party not taking a strong enough stand against civil partnerships must be worrying for the party leadership, given that there are much harder compromises ahead for the party faithful to swallow.

  • Paul P

    The protests by fundamentalist hardliners will work to the benefit of the DUP and make a UUP revival far less likely.

  • The

    It would be interesting to hear the Free P’s reaction to Sammy Wilson’s famous Full Monty act.

  • Chris Donnelly

    “The protests by fundamentalist hardliners will work to the benefit of the DUP and make a UUP revival far less likely.”

    You may be right, Paul P. But would you care to explain your thinking?

  • I think that such protests will make “secular unionists” feel that it is a sign that the DUP is changing their way and that they will be more comfortable supporting them.

  • When Big Ian finally goes off to meet his maker, it is more than likely that the DUP will fracture.

    Jeffrey Donaldson will seize the initiative, taking the opportunity to reach out to the Unionist centre ground, through the formation of a new centrist, secularist Unionist Party (the “NUP”).

    There are many within the DUP, fearful of such a scenario, not least, because they relaise that with Paisley gone, the old rejectionist template will no longer be as effective.

  • alfredo

    it is actually the securocrats at their work again – they have organised the pickets in the knowledge that this will make it harder for pragmatists in the dup to make a deal with sinn fein – there is nothing the securocrats won’t do to keep sinn fein out of government!!

  • aquifer

    A non-constitutional political division getting airplay?

    Amazing

    Now what about Shinners and the right to choose, or the Ulster Unionist on legal prostitution?

    Most of us are sure to have sex before we have a United Ireland or full integration with Britain, so this stuff is interesting.

  • T.Ruth

    Having attended the DUP Confrence I saw no sign that there is any division within the party on party principle or policy.Of course many external observers may consider it hard line if the DUP refuses to share power with the Murphiosa drug barons,bank robbers ,fuel smugglers,cigaratte hi-jackers, and those responsible for an unjust “war” which was directed in a totally totally sectarian way against Protestant fellow citizens of the island of Ireland.
    The DUP may be considered hardline if its request for genuine justice and equality threatens the republican dream or if it spells out the demographic reality that Northern Ireland will remain within the UK in all our lifetimes. It is considered hardline if it asserts that Nationalists and Republicans will have to redefine their Irishness in a Northern Ireland political context if we are ever going to have responsibility sharing government at Stormont.
    There is no division in the DUP in the feeling that we should acknowledge our commitment to Christian belief and principles and build our society on a moral basis. A small minority of DUP voters are members of the Free Presbyterian Church but a much larger number comes from each of the main Protestant demoninations. There is no division on the need to accept all our fellow citizens as equal irrespective of race ,creed or religion provided they are genuinely committed to Peace,Justice and Equality and the Rule of Law.
    T.Ruth

  • willis

    T.Ruth

    Nicely positioned, I can see you have a great future in the New DUP, although the expression “demoninations” is a touch Freudian.

  • T. Ribulation Wholesome

    “There is no division on the need to accept all our fellow citizens as equal irrespective of race, creed or religion provided they are genuinely committed to Peace,Justice and Equality and the Rule of Law.”

    …Well, here’s a thing about law: it actually applies equally to everybody, not just those you like, or those who meet criteria of your devising. Otherwise it’s not law, but persecution. So the instant you introduce provisos, you’re turning away from equality and the rule of law and introducing your own facsimiles of them, which you vainly attempt to dignify with Capital Letters.

  • Henry94

    All abominations welcome?

    Nationalists and Republicans will have to redefine their Irishness in a Northern Ireland political context if we are ever going to have responsibility sharing government at Stormont.

    There is no such thing as a NI political context. The very sentence you write proves it. If that is the attitude of your party then they can’t funtion as democrats. They simply don’t understand the concept.

  • barnshee

    All whistling in the dark afraid the bogeyman is the DUP
    It will simply grow from strength to strength as the section of prods who don`t vote at all continues to rise

  • Comrade Stalin

    Of course many external observers may consider it hard line if the DUP refuses to share power with the Murphiosa drug barons,bank robbers ,fuel smugglers,cigaratte hi-jackers, and those responsible for an unjust “war” which was directed in a totally totally sectarian way against Protestant fellow citizens of the island of Ireland.

    Mr Ruth, you’re obviously a DUP member so perhaps, instead of running away from the debate, you might tell us what Ulster Resistance was about, or why your party colleague William McCrea felt the need to show solidarity with Billy Wright on a podium ?

    The DUP may be considered hardline if its request for genuine justice and equality threatens the republican dream or if it spells out the demographic reality that Northern Ireland will remain within the UK in all our lifetimes.

    Here’s a simple question for you. Can you say categorically that in the event of a democratic vote within NI in favour of a united Ireland, you would unequivocally oppose any armed resistance to that democratic decision ?

  • Bretagne

    “A small minority of DUP voters are members of the Free Presbyterian Church”

    Yes but Free Presbyterians have a disproportionate number of MP’s, candidates and party officers. Maybe there is a 50:50 rule that we should know about?

    “Nationalists and Republicans will have to redefine their Irishness in a Northern Ireland political context if we are ever going to have responsibility sharing government at Stormont.”

    I’m not redefining anything about myself to have government at Stormont – all things considered – I’ll wait the generation (or more) it takes to get a UI – I see in the Sunday Times today that only 80% of DUP members think they can stop it within 20 yrs anyway.. I would encourage Nationalist to have the backbone to wait, and wait.

  • NORTHERN FF

    This speculation and the inference that the DUP is ready to move, if it wasn’t for those pesky Free Ps, is very convenient indeed. The idea that there is a great new wave of progressive thinking within this most obstructive of political forces suits the current wider NIO political agenda perfectly.

    It will be interesting to see, in the months and years to come, what role the NIO has played in generating the speculation.

  • Fear Oraiste

    I’d be interested to hear from Sammy Wilson at this point on the future direction of the party. Maybe he’d like to “reveal all” about DUP strategy? Wait a minute, hasn’t he already done this in the Sunday World?

  • headmelter

    Nothing like a good schism.
    When the big man goes there’ll be some craic.

  • Rationalist

    It looks like Jeffrey Donaldson will have his hands full, now that he’s been appointed caretaker manager at Newcastle following the sacking of Graeme Souness.

  • fair_deal

    This “divisions” stuff I find curious. As a former member of a divided party I know what exactly what one looks like and feels like and the DUP is not a divided party. The media seem to miss the good old days of the UUP’s movable and permanent row but unfortunately for them the DUP is a different political animal than the UUP.

    Has a DUP MP, MLA or a noticeable proportion of councillors made public criticism of the Party’s approach? No
    Have senior, middle or low ranking representatives or officials been resigning over the Party’s approach? No.

    There is a bit of bitching about individuals and a few ‘brains of ulster’ miffed they didnt get jobs, the stock and trade of any political party, however, bitching happens when you have more than two people in an organisation and as Robinson pointed out the results the staff team helped deliver speaks for itself.

    The UUP has tried to push the line about divisions, as is their role now the UUP are in second place, but some of Reg’s claims earlier this week were contradicted by the ST survey results.

    I think it is also symbolic how the media are fascinated by the ‘potential’ negative, the overwhelming willingness of the DUP members surveyed by the Sunday Times to enter power-sharing with the SDLP seems to have been singularly ignored.

    “Jeffrey Donaldson will seize the initiative, taking the opportunity to reach out to the Unionist centre ground, through the formation of a new centrist, secularist Unionist Party (the “NUP”).”

    LMAO

  • slug

    “There is no such thing as a NI political context.”

    Reminds me of something Margaret Thatcher said.

  • JJ

    Was it not the case that the ‘protesters’ where unaware of the limits that councillors has in relation to the civil partnerships votes? There was nothing that DUP councillors could have legally done to prevent the act, or in allowing same sex marriage from occurring in any council buildings. The folk kicking up a fuss misunderstand politics and misunderstand what councillors could have done.

  • Butterknife

    I believe it was the The Sunday World but 3 DUP MPs are backing an England University’s Student Union in banning gays, bi-sexuals and gender reassignment persons (sic) from joining their society.

    So its not just catholics they are against!

    I believe its William McCrea, Jeffrey Donaldson and the MP from Derry.

  • fair_deal

    JJ

    “Was it not the case that the ‘protesters’ where unaware of the limits that councillors has in relation to the civil partnerships votes? There was nothing that DUP councillors could have legally done to prevent the act, or in allowing same sex marriage from occurring in any council buildings.”

    The DUP councillors could possibly have done more on this issue but it was more a lack of preparedness that caught people out. There is no obligation in the Civil Partnerships Act for councils to provide any sort of ceremony, it is simply a form completion exercise.

    However, the impact of Section 75 of the Equality Act makes the legal issues more complicated in Northern Ireland than in the rest of the UK and councillors aren’t willing to take the risk of being on the losing side of a legal case to clarify the two pieces of legislation (with a possibility of surcharging).

    Butterknife

    Feel free to demonise but please try to get the facts correct. I am afraid you have it wrong.

    A University Student Union wants to ban the Christian Social Union from its building (and has already frozen its SU account) because the Christain Group refuses to amend its constituion to guarenteeing membership to gays, bisexuals and transexuals. It is about a secular group trying to force its position onto a religious organisation ie freedom of conscience and religion issues are at stake.

  • Butterknife

    fair_deal

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2008732,00.html

    If a man or woman has the freedom of conscience to change gender or prefer same gender then it truely is a storm in a teacup for the evangelical student organisation surely would not turn away sinners …

  • fair_deal

    Butterknife

    An exercise of an individual’s conscience places no obligation on anyone else to agree with or condone it.

  • Animus

    It isn’t just form completion – civil partners take an oath, just as they do for marriage. The one difference is that for heteros, marriage is official upon signature, for gays, partership is official upon declaration. Fair_deal – would you say that marriage in council is also form completion?

    It would be a blatant violation of Section 75 to ban civil parterships from taking place in Council. Let’s not forget that many, if not all of these people, are rate-payers, so why should they be denied a service they are contributing too.

    RE: Student union furore
    Gays can be Christian too, so why should they be banned from participating in fellowship with other Christians?

  • fair_deal

    Animus

    The legislation makes no mention of any oath.

    137 Formation of civil partnership by registration
    (1) For the purposes of section 1, two people are to be regarded as having registered as civil partners of each other once each of them has signed the civil partnership schedule in the presence of-
    (a) each other,
    (b) two witnesses both of whom profess to be 16 or over, and
    (c) the registrar.
    (2) Subsection (1) applies regardless of whether subsections (3) and (4) are complied with.
    (3) After the civil partnership schedule has been signed under subsection (1), it must also be signed, in the presence of the civil partners and each other, by-
    (a) each of the two witnesses, and
    (b) the registrar.
    (4) After the witnesses and the registrar have signed the civil partnership schedule, the registrar must cause the registration of the civil partnership to be recorded as soon as practicable.
    (5) No religious service is to be used while the registrar is officiating at the signing of a civil partnership schedule.

    “would you say that marriage in council is also form completion?”

    No. The Marriage Order of 2003 Article 19 makes it clear a civil marriage has to be solemnised, the requirement of a public declaration in front of witnesses and signing the register.

    “Let’s not forget that many, if not all of these people, are rate-payers, so why should they be denied a service they are contributing too.”

    They are not denied a service, they are allowed to complete the legally required processes. They are denied nothing.

    “Gays can be Christian too”

    There is not a consensus position on this among Christians so it is foolish to try and represent it as such. The most commonly held opinion among Christians is that practising homosexuals cannot be Christians.

  • Animus

    I didn’t state that it was a consensus fair_deal – note the word CAN. I realise evangelicals have a problem with it and many churches are trying to come to terms with their approach to homosexuality. But many Christians do accept homosexuality. Please don’t speak on behalf of Christians. Have you considered they might not speak out in favour of because they know they will be shot down by Church leaders?

    It seems baffling that a civil partnership should be the silent form-filling you advocate, like getting a mortgage really. The protestors are saying it would be preferable to go to jail than to allow parterships to take place. That is a denial.

    And except for the solemnisation there is little difference between the two. I really don’t see what the big deal is. These fantatical Christians really should mind their own business.

  • fair_deal

    “But many Christians do accept homosexuality”

    Do they? How many is many? Are these attitudes not a symbol of some wanting the soft option of spirituality rather than the more rigorous requirements of a faith?

    “Please don’t speak on behalf of Christians. ”

    Nowhere in my comments did I represent one singular christian opinion. The simplistic statements of Christian attitudes were by yourself. The word ‘can’ does have a range of inferences.

    “Have you considered they might not speak out in favour of because they know they will be shot down by Church leaders?”

    Hmmm and if Jesus had taken the same approach we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.

    “It seems baffling that a civil partnership should be the silent form-filling you advocate, like getting a mortgage really”

    It is not what I advocate it is simply what the law sets out. The service/ceremony/oath that has been developed for civil partnerships has no statutory basis.

    “The protestors are saying it would be preferable to go to jail than to allow parterships to take place. That is a denial.”

    My comments were on the approaches of Councils and councillors not what the protestors wanted.

  • Animus

    Faith is not rigorous – by its nature it’s a bit soft and fuzzy. “Faith is believing something you know ain’t true.” – Twain. Certainly faith doesn’t have the rigour that science employs. No matter how much you believe something, belief alone doesn’t make it true.

    I commented on your consensus bit only because you commented that I was offering consensus.

    I don’t believe in the Jesus thing, so maybe he was a real person, maybe not, but I don’t recall Jesus saying anything about civil partners.

    The service for heteros doesn’t require friends and family, a small room with two witnesses and a registrar would suffice. The ceremony is just as unnecessary for straights.

  • As I understand it, the Birmingham University Christian Union merely wishes to set its own criteria for membership, which is something any religious denomination would insist upon.

    As for the main theme of this thread, it’s a sign of the DUP’s growth that the party now attracts its own pickets. The significance of this one protest shouldn’t be exaggerated. However, the DUP’s stranglehold over unionism means that internal party discipline will be more challenging than in the past. The UUP is too weak and too devoid of ability to offer any real electoral threat in the short term. The ongoing political deadlock also means there are few DUP mistakes for the UUP to exploit.

    The DUP’s trump card remains Paisley. Whilst he is leader, there will be no serious revolt from the party’s Free P traditionalists. He remains the best possible person to hold together the diverse strands of the DUP.

  • lib2016

    There is no possiblity of a serious split in unionism or in the DUP since it would give rise to the possiblity of Sinn Fein becoming the largest party in NI one day earlier than it otherwise will.

    To put it another way, unionism has no hope of modernising itself even after the ‘big man’ has gone.

  • fair_deal

    “The ceremony is just as unnecessary for straights. ”

    Wrong. The Order requires civil marriage to be solemnised (who can solemnise it is restricted) and it requires a public declaration (contained in the service). Thus a service is needed for the solemn process and declaration.

  • butterknife

    For once, i agree with the Watchman. Love him or loath him Paisley is the adhesive that keeps the web of the DUP together. As it grows larger, it is only common sense that there shall be dissenters in the ranks – after all that is how the DUP became into being but dissenting from the OUP.
    When the patriarch departs the stage, I cannot see the DUP drifting back into its protesting ideological mud throwing role, instead I see it diverging into two: be it Free Presbyterian / Paisleyism – Dodds, McCrea et al. and Non-theocratic, i.e. pragmatic DUP under Robinson et al. The irony is that the latter will be much like the Blair government in that as much as Blair admired Thatcher, I suspect Robinson’s camp admires Trimble.

  • fair_deal

    The religious v secular analogy is a poor one for analysing the DUP.

    For example, Dodds is no raving Free P (He is not a communicant member). McCrea has also been pulling in his horns. (He was the first MLA to his feet at the Assembly group meeting to heap praise on the DUP’s Devolution Now document.)
    Robinson ruthlessness and efficiency I think would lead him to have little admiration for Trimble.

    Also the engagement and cohesive approach towards the political process and the talks could not have been maintained if there was not a significant consensus at senior levels of the party.

  • Butterknife

    The DUP as a whole has had to become more mature in the last few years and Free P. in particular are no longer a minority sect within Unionism The DUP as a whole has had to become more mature in the last few years and Free P. in particular are no longer a minority sect within Unionism (is it an ideology?). Many a Free P. Manse denotes a squire’s manor seat, so whoever wins the hearts and minds of this important channel of funding will become victor.
    In saying this, the analogy between Paisleyism and Robinsonism (for want of a better word) still holds, for it goes a long way to explain the weird proceedings undertaken my Paisley’s daughter against her own party when she still lives with the father.

  • Animus

    Fair_deal – the service for marriage need only consist of two witnesses, a registrar and the couple. The service for civil partnerships only requires two witnesses, the registrar and the couple. Do you see the similarity yet?

  • T Ruth

    Comrade Stalin
    In a word-Yes. Can you confirm for me that you are opposed to violence in all its manifestations be it Republican or Loyalist. I am sure that Democracy works and am happy to put my trust in the ballot box.Are you?
    T.Ruth

  • fair_deal

    Animus

    A civil marriage needs to be solemnised by particular people. It requires a public declaration from the man and woman. A civil partnership doesn’t. See the difference.

    A will needs to be witnessed see the similarity?

  • Beezer

    I heard something today while listening to Dublin radio station newstalk on the web that stopped me cold. Apparently Dr. Paisley has a paper published on his own website (http://www.ianpaisley.org/article.asp?ArtKey=666) in which he claims the seat number 666 in the European parliament chamber is being kept vacant for the antichrist. Are the people of NI really saying they want this guy in charge of the castle ? …..remember the Smith’s song “The lunatics have taken over the asylum…”

  • slug

    Fair_Deal

    Off topic I know but what are your thoughts on Facing Reality and the general strategy the DUP are adopting. e.g. is it right to be playing a long game or should it go now for a deal?

    I thought Facing Reality is a little vague in places but the general idea – a lower level of devolution until trust is improved – seems a good one. Whether it can be achieved is another question.

  • Animus

    Yes, back to the form-filling. Filling out a will is basically form filling, so is marriage, so is civil partnership. Thank you for so effectively proving my point for me.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Comrade Stalin
    In a word-Yes.

    I’m glad you replied, for once. A word isn’t sufficient, unfortunately. I was hoping that, as a DUP member, you could explain the actions of William McCrea on that night he took to a stand with Billy Wright, and if you could say whether leading DUP members will continue to forge other links with paramilitaries in the future ? Can you explain why DUP MPs have taken such an interest in the background to the death of Billy Wright ? Jeffrey Donaldson has been asking questions in parliament to ensure that the truth comes out. Do you think this is consistent with the DUP’s vocal opposition to other enquiries such as the one into Bloody Sunday ?

    What plans does the party have to deal with party member Gary Blair who is calling for the release from jail of a convicted LVF killer ?

    Can you confirm for me that you are opposed to violence in all its manifestations be it Republican or Loyalist. I am sure that Democracy works and am happy to put my trust in the ballot box.Are you?

    Yes I am. I’ve never supported violence and never will, irrespective of who or what it is for.

    The question is, are you ? The party you are a member of has been associated with loyalist paramilitarism for decades. Ulster Resistance, Third Force, Clontibret, failing to condemn riots and police attacks last September, Drumcree violence, the works. Right now it is campaigning on behalf of the UDA prisoners in Maghaberry, and supporting an enquiry into the death of Billy Wright.

    I’m in favour of a power sharing executive which excludes those who associate with terrorism, however that would exclude about 80% of the elected politicians here. Unfortunately I have to compromise on my principles and instead support an executive which includes people who are committed to moving toward democracy even if they have not completed the transition yet. In that light it would be nice if the DUP would properly condemn loyalist violence and stop siding with the UDA. I won’t hold my breath though.

  • Depardieu

    A propos comment 2, I’ve just been reading a snippet about Betty White, former TV “Golden Girl”. Betty, who played ditzy Rose Nylund, suffered acute embarrassment at one point during the series when nude pictures of her were published in the Press. I now read that her latest movie is called “SAY A PRAYER FOR SAMMY WILSON”. Is this a bio-pic, I ask myself, and just how close were the eponymous Sammy Wilson and the eightyish Ms. White? And is Ian leading the prayers? I insist we be told!

  • lal lan

    This week on “Where are they now?”

    Jeffrey Donaldson

    Remember him?