DUP loses more councillors

The DUP leader Ian Paisley’s weekend criticism of “those who break rank in weakness or cowardice” has failed to stem the flow of concillors in Ballymena Borough Council leaving the party. The BBC reports that two more councillors have resigned from the party, which means there are now 5 ex-DUP councillors in Ballymena. But, apart from a solitary councillor in Ballymoney, there isn’t evidence, yet, of a wider rebellion.. and significantly no MLAs, nor MPs, have joined the MEP, Jim Allister, in resigning from the party following last Monday – despite their expressions of misgivings about the timing of the decision.Those ex-DUP councillors are

Ballymena – Cllr James Alexander, Cllr Robin Stirling, Cllr Davy Tweed, Cllr Sam Gaston and founding member of the party, Cllr Roy Gillespie.

Ballymoney – Cllr Audrey Patterson.

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  • Token Dissent

    The only surprise for me are that a sixth Ballymena councillor Maurice Mills has stayed in the party, and that the they all didn’t resign together with Gillespie last week.

    It is obviously a blow for the DUPers, creating a schism within the evangelical and reactionary core at the heart of Paisleyism. Or perhaps its better to judge Gillespie, Stirling et al as having stuck to a Paisleyite platform, whilst the rest of the party has moved. On the positive side for the DUP, it will limit the number of embarrassingly nasty statements coming from within their ranks.

  • Sam Flanagan

    Pope Lundy the first is well qualified to speak on the issue of cowardice!!!
    From NO SURRENDER! to NO ALTERNATIVE!
    I wonder if Spurgeon ever preached on it?

  • Dave

    Paisley didn’t call similar people cowards when they defected to his party, what a hypocrite. Has he any idea ho disgusting it is for many Unionists to see ex-IRA men now in the Assembly in very powerful positions.

    Wells, Simpson and Mountray has also expressed dismay and McCreas position looks completely unattenable after his speech in westminster.

  • steve48

    Thats the mayor of Ballymena gone. Surprised that Wilkinson is still there though the field has been lightened for the supercouncil elections.

  • austin

    Do youse not want a taig about thr place, boys?

  • Its very clever how Paisley got the election out of the way before these resignations.

    SF and Gerry Adams didn’t have that luxury, as the Ard Fheis on policing occured prior to the election.

    I think the DUP were quite suprised SF did so well, as they thought the PSNI issue would “smash them”.

  • Dave

    Do youse not want a taig about thr place, boys?

    Considering taig is Irish for hero I fail to see your point.

  • Token Dissent

    Dave, the people have spoken. They knew that a deal was on the cards, and they voted for people who they knew were going to do the deal. Its time you came to terms with that.

    These councillors represent a politics and a narrow sense of identity that has nothing to offer Northern Ireland or unionism.

  • Dave

    Token Dissent

    I voted for the DUP thinking that they would not enter Stormont with Sinn Fein until the IRA army council had been done away with and Sinn Fein were given a testing period. These assurances were given to me on the door by the DUP canvessors.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I voted for the DUP thinking that they would not enter Stormont with Sinn Fein until the IRA army council had been done away with and Sinn Fein were given a testing period. These assurances were given to me on the door by the DUP canvessors.

    Yes, the testing period is six weeks. What’s the problem ?

  • Dave, if you’re genuinely worried about paramilitary councils perhaps this story will re-focus you:

    New Loyalist group threatens UDA

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/article2412947.ece

    The spokesman added: “We want the Protestant people to know that we are here for them and are ready to take action.”

    I guess that’s reassuring them

  • Dave

    Yes, the testing period is six weeks. What’s the problem

    After the IRA army council was dismantled, and 6 weeks is a complete joke considering in the past Gregory Campbell said the testing period would need to be at least 25 years.

  • The Pope

    “Its very clever how Paisley got the election out of the way before these resignations”

    Indeed it was although it was a trifle embarassing that they all refused to canvass for the party during the last election.

    Wonder why Ballymena is the only council where they are dropping like flies?

  • Belfast Gonzo

    This means the DUP no longer has a majority on Ballymena council.

    Interesting.

  • Dave

    Wonder why Ballymena is the only council where they are dropping like flies?

    I have wondered that as well but I know in areas such as Fermanagh councillor Bert Johnston is unhappy with proceedings and a rift could be brooding in this consituency.

  • I ask again Dave, or any DUP member.
    Are any of you concerned about the UDA story?

  • Token Dissent

    Dave, then you were lied to, and you were naive. What did you think St Andrews was about? The deal was done.

  • Dave

    Are any of you concerned about the UDA story

    I was against them receiving the one million and I would like them to disarm and disappear and I demand that Unionists such as Paisley do more to see that this happens.

    Token Dissent

    I don’t think that I was naive in thinking that prior to government it wouldn’t be too much to expect the IRA army coucil to be done away with.

  • Dave,
    Did you seriously believe that the DUP were going to test SF for 25 years. The Doc wanted to be FM and I don’t think we was going to wait until past 100 to get the post. 6 weeks is just to let them prepare for Government while saying they did not let Mr Hain bully them to a deadline on devolution.

  • Dave

    I agree POV and of course I didn’t believe they would wait 25 years but surely this shows what a blatant hypocrite Paisley is.

    I’m not the only one who thinks the DUP has made a bad move as many within the DUP are not happy.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    The Army Council will be transformed into the IRA version of the PSNI’s change management team.

    Just wait for the next IMC report.

  • Token Dissent

    I would suggest that Ballymena has been a centre of dissent for a number of reasons. Firstly it is the heartland of evangelical protestant unionism, where the first DUP councillors, including Mr Gillespie, were elected way back in 1973. These people have a strongly theological commitment to – what they see as – principle, which limits any divergence from their long proclaimed politicised faith.

    Because Ballymena is in some ways the DUP’s Jerusalem a number of councillors have built up individual powerbases, that are not dependent on patronage fron the leadership. I would suggest that there is a stronger instinct to rebel in this environment, especially when these rebellious sentiments are being supported by many in their churches and community.

    It is also noteworthy how few members of the local party have progressed to higher ranks. Resentment could well be a factor.

    The unwillingness to face up to power sharing with republicans is also due to the lack of experience that unionists in Ballymena have of it at council level. It is only since the last council election that there has been a Shinner on the council, and she has been treated with the expected disdain and distrust.

  • kokane

    Although the DUP played the government and Sinn Fein extremely well up until the election – there can be little doubt that they deliberately kept their position ambiguous with no real belief they could get any more out of Sinn Fein in order to maximise their vote. Bob Mc Cartney (multiMac)knew there was unease amongst the electorate but somehow failed to garner that unease. Bob must be feeling completely vindicated.

    Dave, if you knew then what you know now would you not vote have voted for multiMac?

  • Dave

    Bob would have got more votes had he had more candidates on the field. When he started to stand in different constituencies his chances were gone.

    Token Dissent, I accept what you say but that does not really explain why a very high profile person such as Allister left the party and I have one question for all on this board.

    Who if anyone will be the next big name defection from the DUP?

  • The schisms in Ballymena Council are not a one off, and there will be more to come as Paisley pirouettes with Provos in pursuit of power. Watch this space. The MLA’s are all bought men and women, so I see little fissures opening there but the Westminster and local Councils, together with who knows where else, will see Paisley getting his well deserved come-uppance.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Dave

    I don’t think there will be any ‘big’ resignations. But I do remember talking to a senior DUP member some years ago about the problems that the party must be having with Robin Stirling every time he opened his mouth.

    I don’t think the DUP leadership will be all that sorry to see the back of Mr Stirling, a man who, it must be said, is convinced he has been absolutely right about everything in the world ever – and isn’t afraid to let the world know.

    I don’t know what Talkback will do when they need a DUP stereotype on the air, but with Stirling gone, I’m almost convinced there is a god after all.

    Praise the Lord.

  • Aquifer

    With the re-organisation of local councils lots of these people were going to be redundant anyhow. They can make a bit of noise before they go out but in the end so what?, -they will not get elected without party endorsement.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The MLA’s are all bought men and women, so I see little fissures opening there but the Westminster and local Councils, together with who knows where else, will see Paisley getting his well deserved come-uppance.

    David,

    I remember you predicting that Howard Dean would win the Democrat nomination for US Presidential candidate in 2004.

    The electorate have already endorsed Paisley’s course of action. How can anyone challenge his position without support from the public ?

  • Rubicon

    Comrade, a clear alternative to the SAA was presented by Multi-Bob at the last election. A very clear answer emerged. But, for some, recent movement has been too much, too soon and their reasons point to what most consider irrelevant detail. It’s a logical consequence of bible-belt thinking where there exist no greys – just black and white. It’s for this reason that I think Ballymena is featuring at the moment. It will be just a flash in the pan and with these bigots out of politics I’ll not be regretting their passing.

    As for “who next?” – it seems Paisley & Co are managing this pretty well. The Doc has the signed resignation letter of any of his MLA’s who decide to rebel. Defections won’t damage DUP representation on the Executive – that’s locked until the next Assembly election. As for MP’s defecting – much would depend on ‘who’ and ‘when’. Most would be unelectable without the DUP ticket and by the time of the next Westminster elections the DUP MLA’s would have made them irrelevant at constituency level.

    There is also the DUP ascendancy that may occupy many potentially dissident minds. Many DUP’s expect the power battle for the leadership to be not that far away. Jumping now makes no sense. Even Dodds will persuade them to stay in – in the hope that he can count on their support against Robinson. But, by that time all those 2 wings of the DUP will have to row about will be the devolution of criminal justice.

    I’m sure SF – the experts on ‘timing’ (and proselytisers of ‘patience’) could pull a surprise here if it suited them. Which way they’d go is impossible guess – but as things stand they’ll keep pushing for May ’08. But – as the backwoodsmen are now finding out – “things” are subject to change – even in NI politics.

  • kokane

    Comrade Stalin

    “The electorate have already endorsed Paisley’s course of action. How can anyone challenge his position without support from the public ? ”

    What is quite clear is that the DUP position was not clear before the election. The “Testing Period” for Sinn Fein – turned into pre-deadline negotiation, followed by a request to Adams for a delay, followed by many meetings with Sinn Fein to pre-approve ministerial portfolios. This is a “testing” period only in terms of those who did not see this coming and thought the Rev was going to play hardball. His ambiguous stand in the lection has allowed his detractors to claim that they have stuck to the manifesto – and use the old line that ” I did not leave the party the part left me”

  • Two Nations

    I can only see this as a good thing. It will strengthen the DUP in the long run. The fundamentalists will be out of the party, leaving Robbo with a stronger hand.

    The hardliners will only prove a problem once(if) they find a charismatic leader. Until that point they will not get that many votes. However, there is no leader out there. Bob, McCrea, Simpson are all no-hopers.

    The more fundamentalists who leave the DUP, the more the party will attract moderate Unionists. I for one have been very impressed with the DUP in the last few weeks, Robbo’s pragmatism has been a revelation. I have even been feeling less nauseous about voting for them in March. I will probably vote for them again at this rate, even though I was expecting not to.

    If they keep it up and the moderate wing win the day (when Big Ian goes) then the only losers will be the flat-earthers and Alliance (who would have hoped to have become the party of choice for moderate Unionists).

  • Richard

    The DUP/SF combo’ is showing itself more and more to be the house of cards it actually is. Only time will be able to cover the cracks and let the process bed down but it’s becoming increasingly clear that Big Ian’s criticisms do not hold the same thunderous impact they once did.

  • wevebeenherebefore

    Mr Vance

    Is there any need for such vitriol, hoping for Paisley to get his comeuppance?
    As a member of the UUP, I have watched what is happening to the DUP happen to the UUP and I tell you this is no cause for celebration. The only people who will lose lose out from a DUP implosion are the unionist community, we cannot afford for that to happen

  • wehavebeenherebefore,

    And in your case, learned nothing, it seems.

    Comrade Stalin,

    Re: Howard Dean. I hoped he would have got the Dem nomination because it would have been more fun than with Jean Francois! 😉

  • Comrade Stalin

    kokane:

    This is a “testing” period only in terms of those who did not see this coming and thought the Rev was going to play hardball.

    I don’t agree that nobody saw this coming. Bob McCartney said quite clearly that he thought Paisley was going to do a deal, and challenged people to get them to deny it on their doorsteps. He offered a clear non-ambiguous option – and the electorate rejected it.

    The stuff about a testing period is all spin. Jim Allister complained about several other things such as the ongoing existence of the IRA army council. If it wasn’t one thing, it would be another. Fact is that these people don’t want SF in government; the DUP were conspicuously amibiguous on that question; the UKUP offered an alternative and it was flatly rejected.

    Anybody who didn’t spot this coming clearly didn’t have their ear to the ground.

  • Bemused

    Excellent post Two Nations. I think you’re right – Robinson has played an absolute blinder over the last number of months. It’s pretty clear that he’s now calling the shots and is the party leader in all but name. The DUP were never going to progress much further electorally until they grasped the nettle of dealing with the pea-brained biggoted element within the party. The agreement with Sinn Feinn has served as a fairly easy and painless way of drawing out the more extreme head-banger elements of the party and sending them merrily off to the wilderness. As for leaders – the refuseniks in the party genuinely don’t have anyone up to the task.

  • graduate

    token dissent,
    They may think they have individual powerbases but to be quite honest they were all elected on party ticket.
    Let’s see them stand as individuals and see if they can get elected!
    By the way, electorate knew what they were voting for, hence the increase in DUP vote.Joe public wants a working assembly

  • I think Rubicon and Two Nations pretty much have it right.

    Some unknown number of “can’t change, won’t change” ideologues will leave the party, and the process of government will move on. The DUP and the electorate will have a few years of (hopefully) constructive local government before there are any more important elections (Councils and Europe don’t really matter).

    So by the time the next Assembly (or even Westminster) elections roll round, the “can’t change, won’t change” brigade will have been shown to be irrelevant. The sky will not have fallen down. And we can start to think about how the processes and structures of government can be improved.

  • Ziznivy

    “Thats the mayor of Ballymena gone. Surprised that Wilkinson is still there though the field has been lightened for the supercouncil elections.”

    Having been co-opted unto the council he’s probably relishing the defections as it moves him up the pecking order for the supercouncils.

  • I Wonder

    “I for one have been very impressed with the DUP in the last few weeks, Robbo’s pragmatism has been a revelation. ”

    I am surprised to find myself nodding in agreement with this. 🙂

  • Paisley is the last man – the very last man in the world – to lecture anyone on “breaking rank in weakness or cowardice”. Everyone can see that is what he did. Even the UUP took a long time to lose elected representatives to other parties, the DUP have already lost control of their Holy City.

    Kokane’s point at 11.30 last night is significant. The DUP was not open about what it meant by the required period of “testing”. That’s why I believe the number of people who oppose what Paisley has done is higher than the vote that Rainbow Bob et al received. No, it’s not even a significant minority yet. But things can change. The new Executive era will be a bumpier ride than many are ready to let on.

  • nmc

    Dave

    “what a blatant hypocrite Paisley is”

    “I don’t think that I was naive”

    LMAO. I suppose you believe that he is a qualified MD and a religious man to boot? He has carried out acts of evil in his life, no matter what book you believe in. The Third Force, Burntollet, numerous public acts of incitement, Ulster Resistance etc.

    In terms of his hypocrisy check this out:

    http://u.tv/newsroom/indepth.asp?id=75123&pt=n

    Never never never. Aye ok.

  • Ian

    It’s been reported that “the DUP has lost overall control of Ballymena Council following the departure of two more party members, the borough’s Mayor James Alexander and Robin Stirling, who are to remain as independents.”

    But they’d already lost overall control last week when Roy Gillespie quit, hadn’t they? Before the latest two regsignations the DUP had 12 councillors and there were 12 non-DUP councillors. Or does the casting vote of the Mayor mean they had control until last night, even if they couldn’t muster a majority vote on the number of their councillors?

  • Alan Law

    Gillespie would get elected irrespective of party endorsement. He has enough loons ready to vote for him in Ahoghill etc.

    Mills would never resign as he usually only scrapes in on the 6 or 7th count.

    Alexander is sour that he didn’t get on the Assembly election ticket instead of the 4th choice (nelson?). He is also unhappy that he didn’t get a pass for the Assembly count and one of his fellow party members grassed him to the authorities resulting in his expulsion from the count centre (in Ballymena – 7 towers leisure centre)!.

    Those outside the party will probably still support their DUP colleagues on the council.

    As for Stirling, this man once had the job of educating children, he is a former primary school principal. Words fail me. He is one of the most arrogant, ego maniacs elected to public office. Good flippin riddance.

    As for assurances give by DUP canvassors, in Ballymena there wasn’t any….

  • graduate

    Alan,
    I wouldn’t bet on those outside the tent supporting those inside cos I’ve just seen Stirling on news and he didn’t strike me as willing to do anything for DUP except make their lives difficult, but I agree with your personal assessment of the man.
    Gillespie is a spent force, the world has moved on and he ain’t getting elected without the party ticket in this day and age

  • Greenflag

    Gillespie is an anglicisation of the Irish

    Giolla an Easpaig (Servant of the Bishop).

    It would appear that Mr Gillespie is no longer living up to his name .

    I can already see Paisley in the pulpit with arms upraised ‘

    ‘Well done good and faithful servant and now go away because I have no further use for youse ‘

    Such is politics . Whoever said you can rule a country according to the Ten Commandments neither understands humanity nor the Eleven Commandments.

    If Roy Gillespie really believes in the rule of God he should get himself a visa and head for Iran where he can enjoy sharia if that’s what he wants !

  • Peter Brown

    “As for Stirling, this man once had the job of educating children, he is a former primary school principal”

    I should know – I and at leat one other poster to this site and even this thread are former pupils of Gracehill PS where his successor is former UUP Westminster NA Candidate and Ballymena Division UUP Chairman Lexie Scott. Even with losing the majoroty though formerly DUP to the core people like these four will probably not vote for anyone other than a DUP Mayor in June which puts the DUP back in the driving seat just a little more precariously than before….