“A joint card with McGuinness would be a serious political liability..”

Confirmation that, despite the imagery of that US tour, there will be no joint christmas card from the First and deputy First Ministers, although they may issue cards separately through their own parties. When the BBC’s Mark Devenport noted that possibility on his blog in November his DUP sources told him that “their leader does Christmas “full on”, but does not want to waste money on departmental cards when he has already purchased his own party and constituency cards.” That’s not what, presumably, other DUP sources told Alan Murray.

But senior DUP sources say that even in his own personal capacity, Ian Paisley doesn’t appreciate the Christmas card tradition. “It’s the ‘mass’ bit that he doesn’t like. The association with anything smacking of a Catholic mass is anathema to him.

“A joint card with McGuinness would be a serious political liability. Imagine how ex-IRA prisoners would exploit a card with Ian’s signature on it,” a close colleague explained.