On the tactical advantage of being ‘fundamentally skin deep’…

So a joint Christmas Card is too theologically/politically* risky, but Martin McGuinness’s vicarious visit to Rome as representative of the joint Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister for the elevation of Sean Brady to Cardinal was okay. The answer to Ian Paisley’s complex fundamentalism is, argues Roy Garland (who has known him since the sixties) that he is ‘fundamentally skin deep’.

* Delete as desiredThe applies, he argues, to the whole political project, which was famously described by one of its first chairs Desmond Boal as “right wing in the sense of being strong on the constitutional issue, to the left on social issues.” :

The claim that the DUP represents the Protestant working class now rings hollow but shedding traditional stances has ameliorated the harsher edge of Paisleyite rhetoric.

Red Sammy can now dub Dawn Purvis “Red Dawn” while the Big Man reportedly calls her Communist and Iris Robinson refers to the UUP minister of health’s “natural left-leaning tendencies” because he demands more money from Peter for the health service.

Ecumenism – once the great Satan in Paisleyite eyes – is seldom mentioned again, illustrating how far the DUP has deserted its own leftist and fundamentalist pretentions.

Paisleyism was always an opponent of traditional unionism and Jim Allister faces a major uphill task trying to uncover precisely what DUP unionism represents, let alone attempting to resuscitate what are essentially mythical unionist traditions.

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