Senior Free Presbyterian figure and former leading light in the Third Force, Reverend Ivan Foster, has publicly declared the unease within his church at the prospect of Ian Paisley alongside Martin McGuinness at the head of a new power-sharing Executive in the north. Describing himself as “extremely close” to Ian Paisley, Foster’s words confirm the growing unease within the DUP heartland at the volte face being promised by the DUP over power-sharing and the Good Friday Agreement. His interview can be accessed on video at the web page.
If the DUP are seriously intent on following through on a deal at this stage, then it is likely that the problems surfacing now for the party leadership will be but a taster of things to come.
Much has been said about Sinn Fein’s difficulty in bringing the republican constituency with it over policing. Whilst there will uindoubtedly be difficulties for the republican leadership, the truth is that republicans have for many years been preparing the ground- both publicly and privately- for an historic endorsement of a policing structure in the six counties. Furthermore, the republican base has been conditioned to the realities of political compromises repeatedly in the course of this process.
In contrast, the DUP have spent little time conditioning their broader electoral base (and I suspect even less their activist base, if Rev Foster’s remarks are anything to go by) for the pains of political compromise. Remember Paisley’s 12 July speech, only a matter of months ago?