In what looks like a rather a studied snub to the two PMs, a number of key members of the DUP’s top table will be in America when Blair and Ahern are to disclose their latest version of the road map. Liam Clarke notes, “it underlines both the low expectations of the event and the fact that Ian Paisley’s party is broadly satisfied with what will be proposed”. He also observes, He also observes the party’s appetite/capacity to play to more than one audience:
The American trip is designed to present the DUP at its most pragmatic, to convince the US administration and Irish-American opinion that the party will do a deal if the conditions are right. Hardliners such as Paisley, his son Ian Jr, Nigel Dodds and William McCrea are noticeably absent from the delegation.
It’s a capacity that has paid the Republican Movement handsomely in the past. It would seem that the DUP is indeed getting out more. In the last few years they have invested heavily in building relations in places where previously only Nationalist voices where heard.
And it may be playing off. It’s notable, for instance, that most of the serious pressure from the US has been pointed directly at Sinn Fein over the issue of policing.