The Ulster Unionists seem to be feeling the cold now the DUP appears to be taking ‘collective executive responsibility’ seriously. David McNarry (forgoing the niceities of cleanly playing the ball) argues that they are prioritising their relationship with the largest nationalist party, Sinn Fein, over the concerns of his own, minority Ulster Unionists:
“DUP Minister Peter Robinson, in an arrogant and nasty display of self-indulgent control freakery, spelt out to the Assembly recently that ‘there may be four parties in the Executive but there are two dominant parties’.
“This left no one in any doubt that he meant Sinn Fein and the DUP and clearly not any shared working relationship with Ulster Unionists. Cosying up to republicans, to the exclusion of other unionists, shows the extent to which the DUP will lower their principles in order to be in the First Minister’s office.
“I share in the misgivings of unionists and offer this challenge to all to stand up and face down the bluff and bluster of the DUP and join me in declaring that the political honeymoon period for their DUP/Sinn Fein coalition is well and truly over.”
It should be remembered that the UUP contained (until recently) a very large tranche of anti Agreement sentiment, – apparently the target audience here. Indeed, McNarry’s instincts appear to be to attack from ‘the right’, as the DUP head decisively for the centre ground. Yet it is not clear how much margin on that end of politics there is for a party which simultaneously appears to be courting the liberal/Alliance vote.
More disturbingly for party loyalists, McNarry here seems to be attacking the DUP for trying to do what his own party signally failed to do when they held the Office of First Minister – build a functional relationship with the occupants of the Office of Deputy First Minster.