The following is from a Press Release from Jim Allister, the DUP’s estranged MEP. Nevin has a copy of this on his blog (which would give him the SCOOP guys, when you are writing this up in the Dead Tree Press). It pretty much concurs with much of the discontent we were picking up in the lower ends of the DUP: ie that Team Paisley were using the St Andrews negotiations to feather their own constitutency’s nest rather than attending to the wider party constituency. On the critical last day of the negotiations David Hanson, NIO Minister of State, wrote to Ian Paisley Junior in the following terms:
From Jim Allister:
ST ANDREWS BOMBSHELL
“I am appalled by what I have today discovered by a Freedom of Information request as to how the DUP conducted itself at St Andrews last October, particularly Ian Paisley Junior.
With Unionists back home hoping and believing that the DUP leadership was there negotiating hard for the best deal possible in defence of the Union, I believe most will be outraged to discover that Ian Paisley Junior was wasting valuable leverage on securing concessions from the PM no less, not on matters of importance to Unionists, but on issues of mere commercial or constituency import.
When Unionism needed concessions on a vast range of issues, including an end to mandatory coalition, the decoupling of OFMDFM, a resolute insistence on an end to the Army Council, an enhanced financial package for NI and much more, why did Ian Paisley Junior think it appropriate to move the focus onto these irrelevant issues? Patently by this tactic the DUP took its eye off the ball. Little wonder the outcome was so disappointing for unionists.
While I was part of the wider DUP delegation at St Andrews I was carefully excluded from all negotiating meetings. Now, I better understand why!
Ian Paisley Junior and the DUP leadership now owe a full, unvarnished explanation to the people, not only as to why these matters were prioritised but precisely what is involved in each. For example, what is meant by the reference to a resort spa with housing, who were the beneficiaries, why were the Sweeney lands at the Causeway made part of the negotiations and likewise why were the Ballee lands in the mix? Each and every one of the four senior negotiators who attended the meetings with Hanson and the Prime Minister must explain, but above all Ian Paisley Junior must come clean.
It will be no answer to try and divert attention by attacking me as the messenger, let’s have utter transparency, honesty and candour.”
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