It has been mentioned here that the DUP is floating the idea of a possible plan C, to press for greater institutional cooperation between administrations in London, Dublin, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast and other parts of Britain and Ireland. But what exactly does this mean and what do the DUP require for this to happen?
Looking back at the DUP’s “North South East West” document seemed the best place to start.
First on the list seems to be constitutional certainty, a “cast iron guarantee” that there will be no change in the status of Northern Ireland and that the first opportunity for any referendum on the status of Northern Ireland “will be in 30 years time”.
Naturally, any parties wishing to be involved in government in Northern Ireland should sign this “solemn constitutional contract”.
Secondly, as the document points out, there were 65 meetings of the North-South Ministerial Council during devolution but just 10 of the British-Irish one.
As Northern Ireland’s relationship with the rest of the United Kingdom is “significantly more important” than the relationship with the Irish Republic, and because it is in Northern Ireland’s “economic interests”, this imbalance has to be addressed.
How better to do this than to form a council “encompassing the totality of relations within the British Isles”, as the DUP puts it.
Of course, the relationship between the British Government and the Irish Government “should be addressed within the context of the council”.
A Secretariat should be created to look after the relationship with regular meetings. A “British Isles” Parliamentary Body should also be established.
“Given Northern Ireland’s pivotal role in the British Isles this Secretariat should be based here.”