On the real nature of the DUP…

Brian Feeney wonders whether ‘the bulk of DUP voters’ has the stomach to follow where some of the leading figures wish to take it. He believes that the DUP is now the primary subject of British government pressure – though he is unconvinced that their support is ready for them to bow to it. Interestingly, pressure was a recurrent theme in the ensemble work that was the DUP’s Westminster performance yesterday. Gregory Campbell for instance:

…if we are making progress with democratising the IRA, we keep making that progress. If we are pushing those in the IRA in the right direction, we keep pushing them in the same direction. We do not ease up; we do not change tack; we do not legitimise them, but we keep pushing them in the same direction. Therefore, if the tactics of a more recent vintage are working—unlike the tactics leading up to 1998 and subsequently, which patently did not work—the message is clear: we keep adopting the same tactics. If that takes until November or December, or November 2007 or 2008, we keep adopting the same tactics. We require the IRA to be gone, to be history, to be out of guns and out of business and to be finished and not coming back.

Interestingly too, in the first substantial post on Slugger, I made reference to Steven King’s lament that the Belfast City Council had, by electing the first Sinn Fein Lord Mayor of Belfast, missed an opportunity to exert collective pressure on the IRA to decommission.

The essential strategic weakness then was in expecting a loose federation of interests to use a number of ad hoc opportunities to pressurise the IRA into action. The sheer calmness and focus of the DUP’s delivery – each MP had a different audience to hit – and the weight of concessions the party has wrought tells its own story.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty