The DUP has criticised NI Secretary Peter Hain’s assertion that the IRA has completely ended all paramilitary and criminal activity. Meanwhile, the PUP has criticised the DUP’s assertion that it was never involved in paramilitary activity. Which the UUP might benefit from…From the Irish News interview with PUP chairwoman Dawn Purvis, who set a precedent recently by becoming the first member of a party with paramilitary links to sit on the Policing Board:
“Former paramilitaries came up to me, told me ‘the hypocrisy of [the DUP] would make you sick’,” Ms Purvis said.
“One said, ‘I remember guarding Paisley with a gun down my trousers outside his house in east Belfast.’
“Another said to me, ‘I remember when Paisley was going round in the back of a flat-bed lorry and there was armed men around him. He wasn’t complaining then.’
“There is absolute hypocrisy. [Loyalists] have always known the DUP speak with a forked tongue or, as some people put it, out the back of their hand.”
Last night a DUP spokesman said he did not want to comment on “such allegations”.
The DUP’s Nigel Dodds claimed that Peter Hain was living in fantasy land if he thought the IRA had quit criminal activity. It’s a central plank of the DUP’s resistance to re-entering government with Sinn Fein. Ms Purvis’ accusation seems aimed at undermining the DUP’s moral authority to sit in judgment of others’ dealings with paramilitaries. She’s essentially asking: “Given its history, does the DUP really have the right to lecture others on links to paramilitarism?”
Unlike Sinn Fein, the PUP has been pretty open about its relationship with the UVF, sparing us the doublespeak of their SF counterparts and occasionally even being quite frank about the link. If they can refrain from ‘playing the (wo)man’, can DUP supporters convincingly refute Dawn’s accusation of “hypocrisy”?
And if they can’t, would that make it harder for the DUP to criticise the PUP’s new ‘brother in arms’, Sir Reg Empey’s UUP, for welcoming PUP leader David Ervine into his UUP fold?