Brian Feeney casts his eye south of the border. He reckons Sinn Fein nibbling on the edges of government will cause much agitation within the DUP. He’s possibly right. However the actual position of the DUP on seeing Sinn Fein walking into a future government may not be as clear cut as he suggests. In fact, Frank Millar went directly to the heart of the problem last month. “The Doc”‘s response:
Given the decisions he has had to make, would Dr Paisley have any difficulty if Bertie Ahern were to invite Sinn Féin into government after the General Election this month? “No I wouldn’t,” he replies laughing. “I taunted him with that before. I said, ‘why not bring them into your government?’. But now [ the Taoiseach] says he doesn’t like the theology of their politics.” But it wouldn’t worry him? “Oh, if they bring them in, I would probably mock them and say ‘we showed a good example’.”
Yet it is a moot point about just how much the DUP ever considered the possible bounce their delayed signing up to St Andrews (aka GFA 1.1) might give their erstwhile political opponents in the southern context. As such, Feeney’s last question stands:
Now do you think that oul’ curmudgeon Paisley knew he was playing a part in Bertie’s election campaign and if Fianna Fail makes a deal with Sinn Féin does Paisley realise the part he also played in creating the opportunity for Sinn Féin in the south?
Though, given the energy his Ulster Unionists expended on fights they could not win, it may also be that, in the purely political sense, he doesn’t really care…
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