It is becoming increasingly clear that the DUP have been thrown into crisis mode by the result of the European Election. The last two weeks have brought the bizarre ministerial reshuffle by Peter Robinson, which led to the promotion of the hardline Nelson McCausland (he who opposed playing pitches for St. Malachys College on the grounds that they would eat into a protestant area) to DCAL and the unexpected arrival of Robin Newton to the Ministerial table, a consequence of the partys reaction to the on-going Expenses/ Double jobbing scandal (Newton clearly is the First Ministers chosen one for East Belfast in the upcoming Westminster election.)
But events in the past several days have signalled a definite upping of the ante from the party. Firstly, the decision by the outgoing Environment Minister (Sammy Wilson) to seek a delisting of the Maze/ Long Kesh sites was clearly a calculated pitch to the recalcitrant unionists who would appear to have turned their heads to Jim Allister, as much as it was an attempt to goad republicans.
But the antics of the Paisleys today have signalled a loss of discipline within a party which had come to pride itself on its ability to keep its representatives on message. The North Antrim pairing were very clearly intent on delivering a message that the trial behaviour of the inquiry lawyer representing the tribunal should have repercussions regarding his proposed elevation to the position of Attorney General: (12 minutes in)
“More will come of that later.” (Paisley Jnr)
“A lot of things could happen.” (Paisley Jnr.)
“John will come to regret the day that he said those things.” (Paisley Jnr.)
“All these things will all gather a force and at the end of the day I believe that righteousness will be exalted.” (Paisley Snr.)
Interestingly, Ian Paisley Snr deliberately made reference to the testimony provided by Peter Robinson during the trial. There are two interpretations of that: either the Paisleys are confident that the sin committed by John Larkin in performing his professional job in a manner that annoyed them will be justly punished by the new leadership of their party, or theyre in a state of anxiety regarding whether or not the Paisley brand remains sufficiently strong within the party to dictate decision-making.