DUP in Antrim in mini revolt?

Noel McAdam with a report of trouble brewing in Antrim, where the party’s six councillor’s are asking for reassurances that the party will not agree a fixed timetable for the devolution of policing and justice powers to a devolved Assembly. That’s a particularly aggressive move since Gerry Adams has said he is not prepared to go to his party’s Ard Comhairle on Policing unless that is agreed.However there was also some questioning of the Assembly party’s tactics on last Friday. Mel Lucas backed his local MP’s (Willie McCrea) critical (but so far as we can see, unreported) assessment:

“There are those with reservations about the way it was handled. Some people queried the way it was done. The question was asked whether Dr Paisley had (nominated or designated) and we were told that wasn’t the case. Not everyone at the meeting was convinced at that.”

There is a lot at stake here, and not simply in the short term of a solution to the current political deadlock. One senior journalist Slugger spoke to today noted that what we may be seeing is a jockeying for position in the post Paisley era. McCrea, who has been noticeably on message with the ‘reformer’ group since at least the November 2003 elections may just be cutting loose enough to stake his ground as a leader of the hardline element within the party.

It seems unlikely that he will push it so far as a full on rebellion since, as several of our nationalist commenters have pointed out, any split in the party before, during or after the election is likely to significantly weaken Unionist representation in any future executive.

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