Pressure To Build On DUP

The most significant aspect of this week’s announcement was the joint decision by both premiers to turn the spotlight firmly on the DUP. Though the form of joint management – or ‘joint authority-lite’ as one wag commented to me- has not been properly sketched out, what is clear is that the DUP have been given a very short time-frame to perform a massive u-turn and accept the Good Friday Agreement, with all that entails for power-sharing and participation in all-Ireland structures.

The decision to significantly scale down the shadow Assembly proposals- and to make its operation contingent upon nationalist co-operation- not only delivered a ‘bloody nose’ to the octogenarian leader (as noted by Brian Feeney in the Irish News this week) but also stripped the DUP of any political cover as it enters the most critical phase of its tenure as lead party within unionism. The early signs would appear to indicate that the party has been out-maneouvred by the two governments on this occasion.