DUP enduring first serious public pressure?

So there is dissent within the DUP. The question is what is it all about. The DUP is almost as hermetically sealed as Sinn Fein on anything to do with internal relations. Allister does not appear to be entirely bound in in that regard. But there are some strange, somewhat counter intuitive aspects to this ‘row’. Not least that ‘freelance’ statement on Friday.The significance, as Noel Thompson put it to Jeffrey Donaldson on Newsline on Friday, is that we “haven’t seen for many, many months or even years a press statement that is not issued through the DUP Press Office” The statement was banal enough, and seemed rather more concerned with the way the media were relaying the story than anything Paisley had said in the House:

“Given the total lack of movement on behalf of Sinn Fein on the issue of support for the rule of law, the courts and the Police Service of Northern Ireland, nothing that we have said or done today can be taken by the Government as an indication that they can imply shadow, designate or any other status to anyone in relation to the Office of First and Deputy First Minister.”

They are not the most likely bunch of rebels either. Four MPs: Nigel Dodds, the Rev William McCrea, Gregory Campbell and David Simpson. And eight MLAs: Lord Maurice Morrow, Diane Dodds, Paul Girvan, Stephen Moutray, Nelson McCausland, Mervyn Storey, Tom Buchanan and assembly deputy speaker Jim Wells.

They comprise so-called ‘fundamentalists’ and some ‘progressives’. Despite endless speculation in the press on the subject, this does not have the mark of a ‘fundie rebellion’.

First thing on Friday morning, the Great Hall was awash with rumblings about the DUP Assembly Group meeting. Press talk was of strained internal relations and difficulties at the constituency base. The one clear indication I got at that time was that of all the MLAs Sammy Wilson was the one encountering stiffest resistance in his East Antrim constituency, though he is not on the list.

Friday’s truncated session will be rounded out tomorrow. No doubt all eyes in the press gallery will be scanning this group for the slightest indication of dissent or harmony. We probably have a few points of order to take from UK Unionist Bob McCartney and Ulster Unionist Dermot Nesbitt amongst others to get through. But since there is no provision for a full debate, whatever difficulties there are within the DUP are unlikely to surface. So they have about another week before the party requires a convincing public show of unity from its MLAs.

This certainly doesn’t constitute a split, not even an embryonic one. But the rumblings look set to continue in the first period of sustained public pressure the party has had to endure since it came into its leadership role after the last Assembly election in November 2003.

Keep watching this space.

  • dpef

    Keep watching this space?

    I suggest Slugger’s HQ has had it’s eye off this ball and is well behind the game, despite Allister’s dissent being flagged from Day 1 and I suggest this is due to you falling for centralised spin, believing those in the DUP leadership that have cultivated sound relationships with the site and treating FD as a definitive source. You only woke up when the press office control broke down. It was there for all to see as Allister toured constituency meetings upping his rejectionist rhetoric and was ignored.

    That is, you believed the top dogs instead of looking at the wee blogs (Allister’s).

    Taken for a ride. And you still want to buy into it.

  • fair_deal


    JA is not the be all and end all of the DUP

  • Mick Fealty


    Interesting. As I said, Friday loosed more than a few interesting fragments.

    Of course, I can only blog what I know, and what I hear. My contacts and purview are not universal, and mostly done at a remove.

    But if you think I’m behind the curve, perhaps you can share with us where you think it is, and who is ahead of it?

    The blogosphere is about sharing knowledge after all, not hording it.

  • bertie

    Ah go on dpef, it’s only ourselves 😉

  • T.Ruth

    My dad always told me ,”Keep your friends on the way up, you might need them on the way down.”

    Average DUP constituency people,of whom I am one, prefer party officials, MEP’s etc. to make their feelings known behind closed doors-agree the way forward and then support the democratic decision and the leadership. This is especially the case if you cannot offer a valid alternative plan.Mr A is only newly returned to political life and needs to be reminded of that.He reminds me of “My way or the highway Bob from North Down.Now there would be an alliance that strikes fear into the hearts of those who seek a way forward that will enable the Unionist people to have control of their own future.

    Unionists are on the way to securing a great deal that will meet most but not all of our requirements.We must not at this time repeat the mistakes of the past. We must present a united Unionist front-that is what the Unionist electorate wants.Our chuckie has orlad at last.We must sieze the day and press on to victory over terrorism.

    Signing up for devolved government will present us with a lot fewer problems than Gerry I ,Martin, and Gerry 2 signing up to support the PSNI. The terrorists have lost the war. We must win the peace.

  • dpef

    Jesus Christ. I’ve been emailing you links to Jim Allister’s site for months.

    I’ve been posting them on threads.

    He is pictured surrounded by party members after serious rejectionist speeches in his own newsletters – texts previously provided.

    His site is funded by the EU, has no central DUP control.

    Beyond ignoring the possible ‘racist’ intervention in Dungannon, you’ve ignored the complete rejection of the SAA by a senior DUP member, repeated, expanded and repeated again by him.

    I note FD is now rejecting their MEP as a voice in the wilderness. The split continues.

  • Stiofán de Buit

    T.Ruth: Our chuckie has orlad

    I think you mean “our la has chuckied”. 🙂

  • fair_deal


    1. I did not describe JA as a voice in the wilderness. The DUP has 9 MP’s 32 MLAs and 182 councillors. JA made clear his problems three days after the SAA was published and since then has repeated his difficulties. So exuse me if I am not overwhelmed by your ‘discovery’ of JA’s dissatisfaction. Also considering since he became MEP he has been a prolific speechmaker, contributor and distributor of press statements on a range of issues, so excuse me if I am not overwhelmed by your ‘discovery’ that JA is very active.
    2. I have also made clear my personal problems with the SAA so I have no political desire to dismiss its critics.
    3. I can look at this with a degree of experience as I have been a member of a party that was most definitely split (the UUP). Throughout my years in politics and my career I have built up a reasonably extensive network of contacts across the country of members and sympathisers of the various Unionist parties. I hear plenty about what is going on in the DUP, most of which I don’t put on slugger (as it is in confidence or background detail). My judgement from all I have heard is that the DUP has not split on policy.
    4. As I am not a member of the DUP and owe it no allegiance if I think it has split on policy I will have no problem in saying so.

  • Rubicon

    The potential of DUP having a split is not one that SF will wish to make much of – not at this point. That the DUP are having problems is clear – these problems are of their leader’s making. SF is in a similar position – but seems to have drawn DUP ambition to a point where it signed up to a significant risk and may allow SF to move in an unexpected way.

    Consider this – in late January SF call the Ard Fheis and endorse policing. A few days later the Assembly is dissolved and the DUP are put to the electorate. That’s when SF would like the DUP to deal with its dissent – in the public eye.

    Of course, SF won’t have thought of this, their relaxed appearance over the likes of Dodds ‘not for a generation’ speech is just veneer – the SF poker face.

    Hmmm – maybe not. Dodds is as important as the number of seats his party holds. A split in the DUP could make his views irrelevant. It could also force unionist politics to reform – ‘bigots’ v’s ‘progressives’. The Speaker has already declared against alliances of convenience. A 3-way split in unionism has an obvious outcome.

    Perhaps unionists can get their act in order – but there’s not much sign of it so far. Of course – SF would never be so devious as to get them to explain to their electorate that devolution failed because SF had the First Minister nomination. Gerry wouldn’t be so cruel – would he?

    Unionism has a choice – to respect the wishes of the nationalist electorate – whoever that electorate vote in, or – take your chances with a uncertain future after organised unionist politics with an institution and the option to take power failed.

    I expect the UUP will be the one harping on DUP division for a couple of months yet. Only if SF stick to rhetoric will the DUP get away with it.

  • aquifer

    Let them split. Unionists used to have lots of bitter little ego-fractions, for all the good it did them. This intra-ethnic outbidding is a form of political inflation. Some of these dud notes need to be taken out of circulation.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    There are one or two of us who have stated on here that all is not well in the DUP camp for some weeks – no one chose to listen.

    I can tell you that on the ground the DUP are in difficulty with their supporters and this relates upwardly into the the MLA’s MP’s etc.

    The level of opposition to power sharing with SF in those who are DUP voters is, estimated on my conversations, 40-50% on the ground. Many of those who are former UUP supporters are totally fed up with the whole ‘Fair Deal’ which is now viewed in the same light as ‘No guns No government’ from the UUP.

  • Yokel

    Are the DUP just wiping everyones eye?

    Theres so much inconsientstency in what is going on, who is behind the rebellion and so forth. It’s just odd. The only consistent line appears to be from Allister. There were always going to be rejectionists but theres something that doesnt scan.

    Either that, or the split is as serious as it appears and the DUP will play for time.

    There isnt any going back and there isnt any going back for Sinn Fein either, the DUP should bear that in mind.

  • Truth and Justice

    Mr Allistair needs to get real he has no alternative to the St Andrews Agreement and he would lead us into the Governments plan B for Joint Authority.

  • insider

    Truth and Justice

    What I don’t get is why Unionists are so scared of Plan B. Paisley is quite obviously on-the-run under it as a threat.

    Yes, Dublin will get a role and the Cross-border elements will be developed. But really, who thinks that Bertie or even McDowell would push Irish political unity. It will be further development of the all-Ireland economy – but that needn’t worry unionism. In a sense, we already have an all-Ireland economy and it isn’t necessarily pulling the rug from the Union.

    Power Sharing with SF will give individual SF Ministers authority to push unity. That is why SF are so positive towards Plan A. It is clearly their prefered option.

  • Crataegus

    Now we have the DUP calling for the need for Unity in Unionism, the irony has me mightily amused. In the past there were plenty of deals on offer, and but for the proud Doctor and Co we could have reached one in the seventies and spared ourselves much death and mayhem.
    SF discussion on Policing, when exactly will that be? Delayed; well of course it is. Does all this sound a little familiar to Unionist zealots? The reality of dealing with SF is a lot different than sitting back and sniping is it not?

    It is clear that there are fault lines running right across Unionism and the opportunity to resolve them will probably only happen post Paisley. There is a substantial body of Unionist voters who will not vote for Mr Paisley or his party under any circumstances, just as there are a significant number of SDLP types who won’t vote SF. Real pity in NI is that these two groups don’t talk to each other and thrash out some common position on this place; a compromise, and leave the zealots, acolytes and backwoods men to bay at the moon.

  • Truth and Justice

    I think the UUP should look at their splits have they not in recent months lost two Councillors and a former MLA to the Conservative party, i understand they have also lost a UUP from Ards to the DUP and a former UUP Council candidate in the last month to the DUP. its also interesting to see that the UUP only member for parliament supports the St andrews agreement!

  • the other one

    look will you all just get it into your heads. there is no split in the DUP there is no disagreement. 95% of those who responded to our survey (loyal party members they were) support our position the other 5% came from that evil unionist Bob McCartney and his mates who refuse to accept what we say without question. There was no row in Lurgan, the UUP infiltrated the meeting and caused all sorts of problems (that man Sammy Gardiner is a demon when he gets started). The big mans political lifetime has been 40 years and thats how long the sinners will have to wait on policing being devolved. Robinson radicals, dodds ditherers, paisley pragmatists and allister anarchists all agree on this. Peter Hain is dancing to the DUP tune and if he wants to be Gordons deputy then he has to remember that Gordon is a son of the manse and Ivan foster says he is to be trusted.

  • Stiofán de Buit

    CretageousReal pity in NI is that these two groups don’t talk to each other and thrash out some common position on this place; a compromise, and leave the zealots, acolytes and backwoods men to bay at the moon.

    Hmmm…how about a UUP/SDLP/Alliance electoral pact. Probably a pipe dream, but stranger things have happened. Not much stranger mind.

  • McBurney

    “Mr Allistair needs to get real he has no alternative to the St Andrews Agreement and he would lead us into the Governments plan B for Joint Authority.”

    I thought the DUP were the one party that weren’t affected by deadlines? Therefore, why the sudden rush to forgo manifesto pledges and long-term stances at the click of the Prime Minister’s fingers? Just because there is a deal on the table doesn’t mean we should take it; if a deal is worth doing it is worth doing right. I am willing to wait for the right deal, not a shabby document drawn up by Bertie and Tony – they are no friends of ours.

    I always believed that the DUP was honest with its voters. They are, of course, who brought us where we are today. However, the spin and downright deceit coming from the Leadership in an effort to ensure their legacy disappoints me. If the DUP must rely on sheer spin to sell its ‘Fair Deal’, then surely that says something about its quality. But some would rather snatch at a deal which yes has some good points, but certainly weakens Unionism in other aspects. We were told to wait until the legislation is published, and when it was it contained such gems as Clause 8 which realistically could lead us to Martin McGuinness being not our Deputy, but our First Minister.

    Therefore I welcome the attitude and stance of Nigel, Jim, Maurice and co. Long may it continue, and may my party not lose its values overnight at the prospect of power.

  • Crataegus

    Stiofán de Buit
    how about a UUP/SDLP/Alliance electoral pact. Probably a pipe dream, but stranger things have happened. Not much stranger mind.

    Unfortunately highly unlikely. Would make a lot more sense than the bizarre antics that we seem stuck with. What I find really sad is that all events are reduced to pluses or minuses to one side or the other get it is clear that there is more to gain from cooperation.