DUP and the end of the pan nationalist front?

One of the fascinating aspects of this election has been the relish with which has been consumed in detail by Northern Ireland’s Unionists. Calton Media’s analysis was congratulatory of Bertie Ahern. And even today in the Sunday Tribune, Ian Paisley has defended Ahern against the allegations of financial impropriety. Which begs the question: is this the end of the so called ‘pan nationalist front’? Many nationalists would argue that this ‘front’ was only ever a malicious figment of the collective unionist imagination, and which, on occasion, was used as pretext by some loyalist paramilitaries to conduct sectarian killings. Indeed, considering the way Sinn Fein has been systematically airbrushing the SDLP’s pivotal role in the peace process out of existence, it’s now hard to believe that it ever had substance.

But there is something quite distinctive in the way the DUP is embracing Dublin as good neighbours, building friendships and even partners – that doesn’t seem to have featured in the futuring scenarios of many commentators on Northern Irish affairs. This departure of ‘standard unionist behaviour’ is likely to prove problematic to some of their Northern Irish nationalist counterparts.

As Jim Gibney noted on in his Thursday column:

For almost 80 years the political establishment in the 26 counties, including successive Irish governments and parties like Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Labour Party, were indifferent to what Peter Barry, a Fine Gael minister for foreign affairs, described as a “nightmare” existence for nationalists and Catholics.

If a battle for hearts and minds south (as well as north) of the border, is the only way forward, (and for the union as much as for unification), it looks like the DUP is declaring “game on”! Whatever tactical solidarity existed between northern and southern nationalism before this election now appears to be under serious threat from a DUP ‘Love Bomb’.

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  • I wonder what die-hard DUP supporters are making of the somewhat sickly sight of The Paisley’s (Senior and Junior) grovelling on an almost daily basis to The Free State government?

  • againstthehead

    not bothered mate. builds respect between unionists and southern democrats – happy days. – getting worried?

  • No actually I’m just laughing at their pure hypocrisy. Based on everything that they have said in the past two years, they have totally sold-out their electorate. Clearly there is some desparation in their ranks as they have seen that an All-Ireland solution is moving ever closure…

  • Ellie

    “Based on everything that they have said in the past two years, they have totally sold-out their electorate.”

    Go on, then. Remind us.

  • ingram


    What about not a bullet not an ounce?

    Never mind administering British rule?


  • Ellie,

    “We will NOT share power with Sinn Fein under ANY circumstances..”

  • Ellie

    “We will NOT share power with Sinn Fein under ANY circumstances..”

    Hmmmm….wasn’t there a caveat that that was policy until the defeat of the Provos. After that, they would have to treat SF like any other party?

    Yes…I’m certain they said something like that http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=3&art_id=qw1139065020704B256

  • Comrade Stalin

    Actually Mac is right. Paisley said on several occasions that he would never share power with SF, ever. He didn’t qualify it in any way.

    Of course, SF have jettisoned their principles to a much greater extent than the unionists have. Not that this is a bad thing. Both parties were wrong, and if they’d had the swingers to make the same call 30 years ago the huge stack of dead bodies might have been avoided.

  • D-C

    Why have a shoddy imitation of multi-sovereign approach to Northern Ireland affairs when you can have a truly sincere democratic centre.

    I mean, any more of this nonsense (and nonsense because DUP policy has never supported it) and I will be sending them out application packs to join, so long as they have repented!

    But the issue as Comrade Stalin raises over loss of life is genuine and it rips me up to see just why men like Paisley and McGuinness saw fit to ethnically antagonised over the years as it wasn’t over their dead bodies but those of others.

  • fair_deal


    Have you got a source preferably online for the quote?

  • D C

    How about this:

    “No unionist who is a unionist will go into partnership with IRA/Sinn Fein,”


    “Sinn Fein are not fit to be in partnership with decent people. They are not fit to be in the government of Northern Ireland and it will be over our dead bodies if they ever get there.”

    Taken from –


  • DC

    In addition, I quess the above is just a further extension of Paisley’s two-facedness bearing in mind in 1977 he did state he would resign if the Worker’s Council strike failed – it did and he didn’t resign.

    Those who voted DUP have been hoodwinked by a power-hungry man who seems to have wanted power by any means possible.

  • This departure of ‘standard unionist behaviour’ is likely to prove problematic to some of their Northern Irish nationalist counterparts.

    Isn’t a closer engagement between Dublin and the DUP just as much of a necessity from a northern nationalist point of view as any other?

    Uncomfortable as it might be, it would be a mistake to treat it as a threat.

  • Ellie

    “Have you got a source preferably online for the quote? ”

    I suspect he doesn’t. The best I’ve found is http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/6345183.stm (former?) DUP supporters picketing a meeting to make that demand.

    I have to say that I’m not excited enough to trawl through DUP manifestos (assuming they’d even be online) to definitively say that it was DUP policy. I seem to recollect that it was always clearly inferred that as a democrat (place it in quote marks if you wish) Paisley would adopt a different view when the war was over and the guns gone.

  • George

    Perhaps what we are actually seeing is the DUP joining the pan-nationalist front.

  • George is closer to the mark. The little Ulster Nationalists in the DUP are merely showing their true colours. They have been added to the pan-nationalist front.

  • Mick Fealty

    It would hardly do any harm Tom, particularly if it defuses some unionist’s tensions about Dublin. SF have been ‘love bombing’ Westminster for years without anyone putting them into the Unionist camp. But I’d like to hear David’s reason for putting them over into the Nat’s column?

  • slug

    The DUP’s 2003 and subsequent manifestos were very carefuly worded.

    It said things like “no powersharing with armed Sinn Fein” and such.

    I read that as meaning “we will share power when they’re not armed”.

    And so it proved to be.

  • Mick,

    I believe the DUP, and the UUP for that matter, favour a form of petty Ulster Nationalism over a pluralistic British unionism. This is reflected in their zeal for devolution at any price and explains why the honey-trap Assembly is too good to resist.

    Paisley gave the game away recently when he paid homage to Alex Salmond and expressed his admiration to the SNP. I suggest he, and most certainly Robinson, would be happy for the DUP to morph into the SNP-lite – favouring NI devolution over UK integration – looking south rather than east, whilst all the time assuring Northern Protestants that even in a de facto, if not de jure, UI, the DUP would look after Prod interests. I believe the DUP are the greatest threat to the survival of the Union, and their inveigled mandate on an entirely spurious manifesto, opens the door for the development of their little ulster nationalism. Carson (Sir Edward, not Frank) would spin in his grave.

  • páid

    As I would take a certain pleasure in it, I am sure I would have noticed if the Paisleys had been grovelling to Dublin on a daily basis.

    Or is it simply the case that the integration of the plantation has resumed after a 35 year interlude?

  • George Michael

    lol, the paranoia is sooo evident in some of the hardline unionists posting comments here -classifying Paisley as part of the pan-nationalist front(which also is just another figment of their warped imaginations).

    I wonder would these wackos (you know who you are) decide to launch a ‘pre-emptive strike’ across the border if a proper modernising program for the Irish Defense forces ever comes to pass. I wouldn’t be surprised.

  • Snaz

    The Ulster Nationalism of the DUPs leaders is becoming more and more evident by the day.

    The Shinners could never Unify Ireland because they would need Unionists to comply with them to achieve that but the DUP leadership appear to succeeed were they failed.

    The Power with no principles Paisleys and Robinsons are now calling BRITISH ministers Squatters whilst helping provide the PR background to get Bertie reelected.

    Add in the 12.5% corporation demands for N.I. only (not England, Scotland and Wales too), their very British tolerant views on homosexuality and you may very quickly think that after 30 years of never being in a position to be relevant they have forgotten that they are “meant” to be Unionist not the Ulster Nationalist Party.

    They are renamed the Democratic UTurn Party.

    Problem for them is, whilst this little Ulster approach will suit a lot of their traditional (15%) support base the other 10-12% will find this repugnant as will an increasing number of their rank and file, MLAs and Councillors.

    But maybe as McCrea and co have done they will be silenced by the patronage of office!!

  • Briso

    I suspect some DUP memebers now hate SF more than a united Ireland. From people like David Vance’s perspective (and the late Enoch Powell for example), cosying up to Dublin to piss off SF (and I suspect tempt FF into the north to really hurt them there too) is all a step too far. British as Finchley! London rule!

  • darth rumsfeld

    Anyone from Mid Ulster able to confirm stories that on Friday week in Cookstown the South Down DUP band was taking part in a parade there and their hitherto adoring audience was noticeable for the chorus of boos? I don’t think it was the quality of their performance.

    Anyone from the Independent Orange able to confirm that some lodges have indicated that they will not be attending the 12th this year in protest at the identity of the guest speaker who many of them regard as having deviated ever so slightly from what they heard him say last year?

    Anyone from the Free P church able to tell us how the earnest discussions within that body are going to ….consider that the Dear Leader might be spreading himself too thinly and should be asked to step down as Moderator?

  • The Penguin

    David Vance might well be right or he could be totally wrong but whatever the case it goes no way towards explaining why for years he was singing the praises of the DUP. Now, supposedly, they are the greatest threat ever to the union. Either way it says a lot about the quality of his political analysis.

  • Snaz

    David Vances Unionism was never mine but I think he might be one of many thousands of former DUP supporters who cannot believe what the hell is going on.

    As a well known Pro Agreement Unionist in my own locality I was coming home from Leichestein from watching Northern Ireland on the 26th of March and I met a load of lads from a pretty staunch N.I. supporters club. The usual banter was happening (me saying Unionism cannot recognise a victory when it sees one and them saying Paisley will never do the deal) when I told them,

    1. He had just done it and had to ask the Shinners permission or the whole deal was off.

    2. That he was laughing and joking with the IRAs former chief of staff.

    3. That mandatory coalition devolution under DHont with Sinn Fein having a free pick for Education (The DUP had already made it clear that they were taking Health as their first pick) was now timetabled for the 8th of May.

    The lads all said “Wise Up” and then I showed them the UTVLIVE WEBSITE.

    They were all flabbergasted and disgusted.

    Now can you imagine what they feel like now having watched Paisleys love in.

    Personally I think it is great (but late) in terms of this Damascus type conversion to inclusive politics, problem I have is that Promotion of the Union seems to have been forgotten about and Ulster Nationalism has kicked in and unless we in the UUP can get our act together these voters will just add to the other 300,000 stay at home Unionists and help Nationalism to add to the 4 net gains they made at the last Assembly Election which was a very poor one for all of Unionism and a disaster for the UUP.

  • Snaz,

    There are many bloggers here who are Northern Ireland fans and who constantly bombard this site with posts saying that there is no longer any sectarianism among NI fans.

    Your vivid descriptions of this ‘staunch’ Northern Ireland Supporters Club and their hardline views will certainly raise a wry smile among those of us who are well aware that sectarianism is alive and kicking at Windsor Park…

  • hotdogx

    all this whining about unionism being diluted, and what did the union ever bring to ireland, can anybody make a list of positive items?

  • Snaz

    Northern Ireland fans are just a real cross section of our community. The atmosphere and chanting at games has been transformed in a way that Rangers and Celtic could only dream of. If someone attempts to start “The Sash” or something like that they are drowned out. The team, as it always has been, is made up of both sides of our community. My hope is that all Northern Irishmen will support Our Wee Country not our foreign neighbours (dead on though most of them are). Secterianism is alive and kicking in every aspect and facit of Northern Ireland life so although it rarely manifests itself these days at N.I.matches like the rest of society there is still a minority who hold those views.

    Here goes. Thanks for the opportunity. As a real Unionist I relish pointing out the tangible benefits that we all derive from membership of the United Kingdom.

    1. Economic stability
    At a time when our neighbours were struggling economically the fact that we were just a region of a still succesful United Kingdom meant that our own terrorist related (both sides) difficulties did not mean that our people suffered even more economically than the terror that the troubles visited upon them.

    2. High quality Public Services.
    As someone who is proud to have significant business interests in both jurasdictions I can tell you that this is THE major difference to life in both.

    The NHS is light years ahead of our Irish counterparts and they would be the first to admit it. Not even near the same league and when I hear some of my Northern Ireland staff and/or constituents moaning about the UKs I always think of some of the horror stories of my Irish staff.

    That is why there was such a National outcry when BUPA left the Private Health Market and why the Government helped broker the deal with Sean Quinn.

    The same applies to the expense of Dental Work, Eye work etc, etc.

    3. Keeping inflation stable.
    Due to the fact that we are the 4th largest economy in the world we set our own interest rates and consequently have controlled inflation for a generation. Irish inflation both actual and wage is ultimately determined by Brussells and the European Central Bank very often providing measures which suit the super powers of France and Germany but are the complete opposite of what the Republic of Ireland need. That is why at the minute that people cannot get on the first rung of the housing market etc, etc.

    4. The laws and standards of the Irish Republic have all been directly derived from the UK.

    5. Democratic Institutions.

    6. Company Law. Although there are a few variations in the main Ireland works the same as their UK counterparts.

    7. Language.
    Enough said.

    8. The Judiciary.

    Is that enough or would you like some more.

    The UK have influenced, in a mostly positive way, nearly every aspect of life in all parts of the BRITISH Isles and I think the more discerning Irish citizens would readilly acknowledge it.

    That is how it should be when one of the worlds most influencial nations should help mould and shape a friendly smaller neighbour.

  • George

    when we in the Republic wistfully dream of the benefits of the lost “union” our reverie is always interrupted by the ghosts of the million dead.

    It’s very hard to think of anything positive after that one, I’m afraid, no matter how hard we try and no matter how many elocution lessons we take.

    But credit where credit is due, the Union remembers these Irish victims. There’s memorials in virtually ever British town just like there is to the other million who died on the imperial battlefields.

    Oh, wait a minute, there aren’t. No time for sentiment I suppose when it comes to moulding and shaping.

  • I suggest he, and most certainly Robinson, would be happy for the DUP to morph into the SNP-lite – favouring NI devolution over UK integration

    Does it really make sense to talk about a choice between devolution and integration when the former is the UK norm? In a sense, devolution is the only real integration.

  • hotdogx


    on one point i can completely agree with you, The health system in the republic whilst its not the worst in europe the uk is ahead of us on that one, no doubts just as frances is better than both of us that point.

    1 What cloud cookoo land our you living in when you say stability, NI is probably one of the most unstable places in the world, half its people want out!

    2 We share an economy and a common currency with the other nations of europe, this is a far more stable operation than the UK which isnt doing very well, particularly in latter years

    3 The irish language is not a disadvantage of ours it was a strength and it was outlawed by the uk regime, hows that for rule of a country, abolishing the language of the people!!

    4and the list goes on!

  • Just to say, I have NEVER been a DUP supporter! When they shared the position I held that was fine, but now they have abandoned nionisy principle in favour of Ulster nationalism, forgeddit. Mind you, Lilliputians always find plenty in common.