Choose now – Good or Bad Advice?

The UUP leader, Sir Reg Empey, wants the DUP to make its mind up now and state whether or not it will share power by the 26th March deadline. A nice soundbyte, a reasonable campaigning ploy and has a ring of logic but is it politically wise for the DUP?If you rule it out now that is a pre-judgement of republican actions and ends the negotiation process with government. If the DUP adopted such a position today they would get panned for being unreasonable, remove any opportunities to get concessions from government, there would be no basis for holding the election and Unionism would get the blame for collapsing the process.

If you rule it in today you lose any bargaining power with government on the outstanding issues, hurt voter and party confidence by just abandoning the policy of delivery and relieve Sinn Fein of any pressure to actually deliver on the AF motion. Crucially, it would leave you even more at the mercy of the republican movement. Imagine if on 17th January the DUP said yes to power-sharing and on 20th January there was another McCartney debacle, Northern Bank or the alleged Camlough find turned into another Stormontgate? This would shatter confidence and Sinn Fein sees such things as an achievement.