A Message Gap?

A series of statements would indicate that engagement between the DUP and Loyalist paramilitaries is near.

A chunk of Unionist voters have as little time for Loyalist paramilitaries as they do for Republicans so this would be the most significant risk the DUP has taken with its electorate since the Provos ran away from the Comprehensive Agreement to rob a bank instead.

However, the question has arisen how does the DUP square the circle of not engaging with Sinn Fein while they do engage with Loyalist paramilitaries? It seems the DUP is struggling with an answer if Gregory Campbell’s undecipherable statement is anything to go by.

Update The DUP’s discomfit could grow if activities like this continued despite engagement.

  • Rory

    Gregory Campbell’s (admittedly unclear) statement says, “…what we denied to the Provos and their affiliates, we will not concede to any other”.

    This would seem conclusively to rule out any engagement with any paramilitaries, including Loyalist groups alluded to earlier in the statement.

    Do you have any additional information that would suggest otherwise?

  • fair_deal

    Rory

    I think the statement comes close to being contradictory.

    “Do you have any additional information that would suggest otherwise”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/4794762.stm

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/4828864.stm

  • Chris Donnelly

    Fair Deal

    I suspect there will be no electoral risk from within unionism to the DUP officially doing what they’ve been doing for more than thirty years- officially and unofficially- i.e. working and engaging with loyalist paramilitaries.

    The DUP have allied themselves with loyalist groupings from the days when Papa Doc publicly read out the addresses of catholic residents living on the Shankill Road knowing full well that it wouldn’t be the boy scouts who’d be acting on his information!

    Be it Ulster Resistance or the UDA and UVF, DUP members and leaders have on countless occasions sat quite comfortably alongside their loyalist counterparts- just ask some of the leading loyalists like David Ervine, who has in the past been only too willing to refer to the DUP’s flirtations with loyalist paramilitaries.

    Engagement within the Loyalist Commission and the North and West Belfast Parades grouping has never been an issue for the DUP – nor for the UUP.

    DUP members have elected UVF and UDA- aligned politicians to positions of Mayor and Deputy Mayor at local government level.

    So let’s not pretend that the DUP is caught in some moral dilemma.

    The only charge facing the DUP is that of hypocrisy: if it’s good enough to talk to a fully active, non-decommissioned paramilitary group from within unionism, then how can they continue to avoid engagement with the largest nationalist political party in the north?

  • Ringo

    I think I get what Gregory Campbell is trying to say – they’ll work with paramilitaries but not within the framework of democratic politics.

  • fair_deal

    “there will be no electoral risk”

    There is a chunk of Unionists voters who genuinely despise all paramilitaries, they were historically UUP voters but the agreement and its implementation means most now vote for the DUP. The UUP cosying up to the UDP and PUP while paramilitarism got worse in Loyalist communities did hurt them electorally among this section so the DUP risks similar problems.

    “Engagement within the Loyalist Commission and the North and West Belfast Parades grouping has never been an issue for the DUP”

    Just because you decide to do something does mean you are 100% happy/content in doing it or that it doesn’t carry risks. For example, the possibility of talks with the Chair of the Loyalist Commission were muted months ago but it wasn’t until now the DUP went ahead with a meeting.

    “some moral dilemma.”

    I presented the issue in terms of communication not morality.

  • circles

    “However, the question has arisen how does the DUP square the circle of not engaging with Sinn Fein while they do engage with Loyalist paramilitaries?”
    For me of relevance is whether this question has arisen at all, and if so, among whom? Realistically, until now this has never been a problem for the DUP. They have always covorted with those prepared to defend the union the union with their lives (or preferably, with the lives of others, with the definition of defend being applied rather loosely) – whilst sharing a room with someone who’s first cousin’s best friend once new a guy who saw a photo of an IRA road-block was unthinkable.
    The problem the DUP might have is how do they continue doing this and still hold on to the ex-UUP voters who might have a problem with this hypocrisy. The Good Doctor needs a good spin doctor. FD is right, this is not a moral dilemma for the DUP, its a question of spin.