Identifying the 14 ahead of an apostolic departure?

The Irish News has named what a DUP source has claimed to be the membership of the Dissenting Fourteen DUP MLAs (below the fold) as the DUP’s descent into turmoil continues apace. Henceforward these fourteen shall be known as the ‘Community MLAs’ as, clearly, they collectively personify the true community which has required confidence all along.

As Peter Robinson heads into his Trimblesque ‘back me or sack me’ showdown, it is clear the party has backed itself into a corner with equally unattractive options. Either the party falls in behind the incumbent leader and humbly accepts a deal it has very publicly already rejected (and possibly losing several MLAs to the TUV), or it delivers a thundering No to the gathering consensus, sheds its wounded leader and heads into a brace of late Spring electoral showdowns which could radically alter the balance of power within unionism.

The decision of the now more than a dozen DUP apostles will likely be influenced by an assessment of damage not only inflicted upon the party from the fallout to date from Irisgate, but also from continuing revelations regarding surprising planning decisions in the east Belfast area (more on that on the front page of the Irish News today.)

According to the Irish News, these are the Fourteen:
Nigel Dodds
Gregory Campbell
Willie McCrea
Ian McCrea
Trevor Clarke
Adrian McQuillan
Lord Morrow
Michelle McIlveen
Tom Buchanan
Allan Bresland
David Simpson
Stephen Moutray
Jim Wells
Mervyn Storey

  • Mary Ann Evans

    Does the DUP leadership still have those alleged resignation letters DUP candidates signed before the last election?

  • I don’t see how these MLAs could defect to the TUV when they have already made plain that they reject the core philosophy of TUV that Unionists should not share power with Sinn Fein.

    And would Jim want an influx of potential new leaders of his little party?

    Robbo’s difficulty is that if he gets an added concession from SF he will go down as the Unionist leader who had to be bailed out by the Provos. He may calculate that he is better confronting his dissidents, but they will inwevitably bite him again, further down the line.

  • The Impartial Observer

    Re. The letters of resignation, I’m sure I read somwhere that if a DUP MLA could show that they were forced or coerced into signing the letter then it’s legally null and void.

    I hope the media are going to run with the planning story. Talking with former colleagues in the Planning Service it seems that senior management regularly overrule staff on applications. That’s all I will say!

  • If the DUP says NO and the governments publish their proposals for a deal, then surely it is Reginald’s opportunity to march his confused and bedraggled troops onto the unoccupied Unionist middle ground.

    This will mean ignoring the Orange Order lobby who will support the DUP’s position but it will offer voters the choice between 17th Century and 21st Century Unionist politics.

  • The Impartial Observer

    #4 Well they’ve just announced that they are not going to merge with the DUP and will push ahead with the UCUNF project.

    Obviously the smell of DUP blood is so strong that even Reg can’t resist!

  • The Impartial Observer

    #4 Well they’ve just announced that they are not going to merge with the DUP and will push ahead with the UCUNF project.

    Obviously the smell of DUP blood is so strong that even Reg can’t resist!

  • Should add that the Irish News were most definite about the last 6 MLAs on your list … the others were “believed to be amongst the dissenters” and had question marks over their thumbnail images!

  • JohnM

    Pleasantly surprised that Ian isn’t there. Also relieved to note the absence of good old Nelson and Pootsy. I just can’t dislike those guys, no matter how many poles apart their political views are from my own.

    Even bumped into Pootsy once on an Aer Lingus flight back from the den of iniquity itself, Rome. Wonder what he was doing there?

  • Framer

    Lucky that Robbo chose a moderate supporter of his for Iris’s replacement as MLA for Strangford.

    So who will replace Jonathan Bell on the NI Human Rights Commission?

  • JohnM

    Hang on, where’s Jeffrey on that list? Can he not even come out of hiding to vote against a fenian-empowerment motion?

  • BryanS

    when do you reckon the planning issues will emerge from the woodwork?

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    malachi said

    ” I don’t see how these MLAs could defect to the TUV when they have already made plain that they reject the core philosophy of TUV that Unionists should not share power with Sinn Fein.

    And would Jim want an influx of potential new leaders of his little party? ”

    Could we have another Unionist party e.g.

    Real unionist, Continuity Unionist, Óglaigh na Unionist.

    Unionism needs to get real (oops sorry). There is a generation of them that time has left behind.

    The day that the Orange Order puuls the strings in NI politics is gone. The populace in general are not disappointed by this either.

    If the Orange Order want to be such a big noise in politics let them set up their own Political party.

  • John Joe

    Wonder what those 14 would make of the story the BBC is running that Browne told Reg on the phone last night that he will call an election rather than suspend.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/8494792.stm

    A broad signal to focus a few minds on their Assembly paychecks? (Presumably this was the plan the 2 PMs had).

    By the way, if it comes to it – today is the anniversary of ‘the day the music died’ – a lazy headline writers dream.

  • PACE Parent

    The unionist voters have had prior experience of the DUP dissenters. The Twelve Apostles spring to mind. Who cares about threats and leaked utterances? – actions count. Lord Trimble and the Cameron Conservatives are no friends of the entire Northern Ireland community – they are simply political opportunists looking for an edge. Just look at the Conservatives position on academic selection and grammar schools prior to the issuing of the results of the AQE tests this weekend. The UUP don’t even have a published education policy – the Conservatives are anti-grammar and pro comprehensive.

  • Impartial Reporter

    The wedge is being driven further in to the party every day, now that the UUP and Conservatives are talking to party members about joining their little band of merry men, Peter is stuck in the middle.

    If he heads towards TUV land, having already negotiated with the torys the possibility of giving up three seats at Westminster to have his bacon saved, he will lose members who see the sudden strength of UCUNF in making a stand against him as a heavy body blow.

    If he tries to deal with what was on the table on Monday with SF he knows he will, at best, face a leadership challenge and at worst lose a number of key members to the TUV.

    I think he needs to take a look around and notice that the ones standing closest to him this morning have carving knives behind their backs

  • BryanS

    DID ANYONE NOTICE THE SUBTELTY of Karen’s first question to daniel O’Donnell this morning when she asked him why he was keeping such a low profile. I thought that was below the belt. He said he was in London last night… No stop it, that’s enough.

  • John Joe

    Guys, you really have to look at all the mixed messages coming from the Tories about the UUP link-up – at best it looks undecided. It’s being talked up by the UUP as they imagine it makes them look like they are on a winning ticket, but each Tory is painting it completely different colours suggesting there is no real policy here, and certainly no co-ordinated strategy. So thats not a direction Robinson can jump in as he’s no idea what he’d land on. As to the TUV? If moves the DUP back onto their position and outflank them does he think the electorate won’t punish him?

  • [b] Buffoons ‘r’ us [/b]

    [quote]There are reports around 14 of the DUPs 36 MLAs have difficulties with the package of proposals on the devolution of policing and justice.

    Their concerns are believed to centre on how a Department of Justice might work, and the drafting of protocols for a future Justice Minister, as well as the timetable for the introduction of changes over how contentious parades could be dealt with. …… http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/politics/lsquodivision-in-dup-ranksrsquo-due-to-be-discussed-14663927.html [/quote]

    Surely how the Department of Justice might work and the protocols for a future Justice Minister, and Policing too, which are both accountable to the Assembly but must be independent of political interference and revelation of their especial working knowledge, are not anything which the Assembly should be involved in, as they should be independent of Assembly interference, as they will be expected to be able sit in objective judgement of each other.

    The idea that the one should be tied at the hip to the other in service of each other, rather than act as independent oversight monitors of each other is perverse and subversive and smacks of a corrupt attempt at covert criminal control.

    Is the Police and Justice argument now all about how to ensure that their departments are vetoed from Investigating Assembly Members ….. for surely we all would expect that the Intelligence that they, Police and Justice, would need and use for their jobs, would be much higher than that of everyone else, so that crime and/or fraud can be stopped in its tracks and peace given a chance to flourish with stability and freedom.

    And if the church is involved in politics, will it out itself and admit its hand in the present pantomime.

    And why are proceedings not televised, a very simple arrangement, so that all can see the farce and offer their considered opinions and see their representatives as they really are, rather than as they would want us to believe what they are.

    Whenever one cannot fathom out the simple reasons for a failure of leadership, one has to start imagining some really bizarre situations.

  • paulmustbeonthepayroll

    “Community MLAs” aka “The P45s”

    This stand is purely based on preservation rather than principle, although disguised as the latter.

  • Critical Alien

    BryanS

    Some reporting on p14 of today’s Irish News of irregularities and odd back-and-forth between planning service and the Robinsons among others, as well as intimations of disingenuous use of planning application support letters.

  • koan

    I wonder if Gerry and Martin have taken PR aside at Hillsborough to share a lesson or two from the life and times of Michael Collins, who also had a little local difficulty after returning from negotiations.

  • koan,

    and with the seemingly inexorable decline of both the DUP and the Catholic Church and given they enjoy some institutional similarities and foibles, perhaps they could also ‘share a lesson or two’.

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    Jeez Unionism is in a mess.

    How did it come to this.

    They (the politicians) brought it upon themselves.

    It says something when the Unionist that talks the most sense is Dawn Purvis.

    Is’nt it time that working class Unionists/Loyalists sorted out a political party that they can put their trust in.

    If I were a working class Unionist/Loyalist I would have to dispair of the Dup/UU/Tuv.

    Unionism needs a sizable party for the working class to force the buffoons of the other parties out of their comfort (frozen in time) zone.

    Its enough already of the same old same old from the Unionist parties. I include the Tuv in this as they are “older” same old same old.

  • iluvni

    I made comment the other day about Lady Hermon’s pathetic record in the Commons where she’s made very little contribution. I couldnt find Paisley or Robinsons recorded contribution so I emailed and asked…

    Hi xxxx,

    Thanks for your email. Neither Ian Paisley nor Peter Robinson have made any contributions in Parliament yet this session (2009-10), so this is why their names do not appear on the list. When either of them contribute to a debate or ask a question, their names will then be added to the list. I hope this answers your question.

    And they’d have the cheek to criticise Sinn Fein’s absent MPs.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    O Neill
    Faulkner
    Trimble
    Robinson

    And so it goes on.

  • articles

    As someone one said you need three hats for politics, one to throw in the ring, one to talk through and one to pull rabbits out off.

    We’ve self evidently progressed to hat number three. But given the shortage of rabbits stand by for some diversionary tactics but what?

    My guess there will be rioting at the weekend.

  • Mick Fealty

    I hate to interrupt the writing of history of the future last, but can I ask why Nelson’s not amongst the possible No voters? And, I think, Eamonn said Storey wasn’t there.

    In the meantime, give we were told last week we had hours to save the Agreement, I don’t see anyone bolting for the door. Including Sinn Fein.

  • alf

    I dont see why SF would have any reason to bolt, thus the DUP would point the finger

  • The Impartial Observer

    #20 Often on major applications objectors will submit bogus objections by taking names from the phonebook to give the impression of more opposition than there actually is. Planning Service acknowledge them and then the person named cotacts them to say that they never objected to it, apparently there were several hundred bogus objections to the Ballymoney lignite mine!

    It might be interesting to ask Planning Service if it received any contact from people who were listed as supporting this application but never signed anything to that affect!

  • Critical Alien

    Impartial Observer

    The report says 534 letter sof support were received, and one of objection for the plans in question. ‘Almost all’ of the 534 were identical templates, with space for a signature and weren’t from residents of the area near the development (one from Scotland). The ‘1’ of objection was from a local greenbalt association.
    The volume of ‘support’ was cited as the reason for overturning a previous rejection. No attention thus paid to the quality. Especially important, the quality, one would have thought owing to the involvement of lobbying groups for the development.

    Like I say, disingenuous!

  • Scaramoosh

    Who is really surprised that there is opposition? And who is really surprised that it is this lot; remember Campbell hiding from the camera and Dodd’s body language?

    The irony is, of course, that did not Iris Robinson once warn about Nigel Dodds?

    The real significance of all of this (as time will show) is that what these lot are unconscioulsy doing, is revealing that the game is up for hardcore hardline Unionism.

    The dreaded United Ireland will come, and the only way that Unionism is going to slow it down and prevent the pain, is to reinvent itself so that it is more relevant to changing circumstances.

    The actions of these 14 represent the last throw of the dice for the militant wing.

  • Critical Alien

    *greenbelt, obviously

  • daisy

    Jeffrey was in fine form this morning, obfuscating his little socks off. He’s in London so isn’t aware of anything apparently, what with London being right next door to Outer Mongolia.

  • Stewart

    Nigel Dodds
    Gregory Campbell
    Willie McCrea
    Ian McCrea
    Trevor Clarke
    Adrian McQuillan
    Lord Morrow
    Michelle McIlveen
    Tom Buchanan
    Allan Bresland
    David Simpson
    Stephen Moutray
    Jim Wells
    Mervyn Storey

    All Orange Order members – Not sure if Michelle meakes the tea for them or not?

  • BryanS

    Scara
    The dreaded United Ireland will come, and the only way that Unionism is going to slow it down and prevent the pain, is to reinvent itself so that it is more relevant to changing circumstances.’

    You really dont get it do you? The last thing the people of the south want is a million bigoted taigs and prods infesting their secular state. The might accept the other 6 or 7 hunderd thousand of us but sadly we come as a job lot. United Ireland is dead. Why do you think SF have no support in the south?
    Irrelevant, outdated, violent Psychopaths.

  • alf

    I think you need a wee read of the agreement there bryan !

    A referendum in England and Wales (scotland is unnecessary as it will be independent) I doubt it would want produce a welcome result for the union

  • BryanS

    Alf
    Do the people of the south not have a say as well?
    You miss my point!

  • [quote][i]
    I dont see why SF would have any reason to bolt, thus the DUP would point the finger ……
    Posted by alf on Feb 03, 2010 @ 11:12 AM [/i][/quote]

    Quite so, alf. Sinn Fein are there to do future business with new rules and regulations and have been playing a very sophisticated and adult game and it would be just the chaos that the DUP would like to blame on Sinn Fein should they be spun as the bad guys who brought down the Assembly should they withdraw their representation. Methinks they see that chaos is all that the DUP can offer and the wiser man will leave them to it to make of it what they will, and for the people to realise that they are being held to ransom by a disgraced Unionism which is not Fit for the Purpose of Government.

    And that Presents for the Future an Opportunity for a completely New Kind of Virtual Political Representation which alienates extremist religious and bigotted sectarian views by leaving them behind in the history of the Troubles for the buck eejits to enjoy in their retirement and twilight years.

    After all, there no point in any of the present incumbents who cannot do deals standing for election again is there, for their present actions, which are as paralytic inactions, would surely disqualify them quite naturally.

  • ardmaj55

    Malachi [2] Since the latest talks got serious on Monday week last, many possible SF and other nationalists on internet forums, notably on the BBC talkback MB have queried why SF haven’t already walked, given the DUP were blatantly stringing them along. Well with the turmoil in the Duplicity Party since Monday past, they have their answer.
    At some point in the last nine days, it has sunk in with Robbo and the DUP that SF weren’t following the script and had tumbled to the bluff, and stayed in precisely because they would, by falling into the trap, have prevented the DUP crisis we are now seeing coming about.
    It’s been an uncharacteristic mastersroke by SF which has called Robbo’s bluff and moved the DUP to the point of collapse.
    Either Robbo now calls the bluff of the refuseniks and takes the deal to the govts and SF, or exposes himself as the estate agent he always was and no leader. Marty must be laughing up his sleeve, getting P&J or not, their grip on the nats votes can only have improved.

  • Greenflag

    ardmaj55,

    ‘It’s been an uncharacteristic mastersroke by SF which has called Robbo’s bluff and moved the DUP to the point of collapse. ‘

    It certainly looks like that but methinks even SF have been taken aback at the ‘ability’ of all the unionist parties to ‘self’ destruct’.

  • innutclem

    I’m sorry iv been in outer mongolia too – why is Daniel o d lying low?

  • John Joe

    innutclem – we’re not allowed to ask

  • Critical Alien

    Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It’s…

    Ahem.

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    Greenflag said

    ” It certainly looks like that but methinks even SF have been taken aback at the ‘ability’ of all the unionist parties to ‘self’ destruct’. ”

    Nobody could have predicted that Unionist parties would be this good at self destructing

  • Macanna

    innutclem, I heard he is getting treatment for a sore back at the berry clinic.

  • NornIroner

    I am just curious, but UTV stated yesterday that Peter Robinson is not a member of the Orange Order – even though he famously marched alongside Ian Paisley in L,Derry in 1986 – does anyone know if he is a member of the Orange Order or which prominent members of the DUP are not loyal members?

  • Billy Boyce

    Poor Karen Patterson didn’t do her journalistic credentials any good in the interview with Jeffrey D this morning. She must have been over-awed by the “jesuitical gyrations”

  • fin

    Jeffrey and Willie have been christened Weffrey.

    innutclem suggest you put weffrey and gaa into google if you want to catch up with the news

  • Billy Boyce

    NornIroner – he was (is?) a member of the ABOD but is not in the Orange Order. Sammy W is not an Orangeman either.

  • ardmaj55

    NornIroner. It could be that if PR walked in Derry, he was a member of the Apprentice Boys rather than OO. I do know Robbo isn’t a member of he Free Ps.

  • Garza

    “Nobody could have predicted that Unionist parties would be this good at self destructing”

    Unionism is in a transition period at the minute. The three parties are schisming into two camps. On one hand will be the moderate pro-agreement secular unionists which favour closer inclusion in the union and on the other will be the far-right religious anti-agreement “little ulster” unionists. Trends will favour the former rather than the latter I believe.

    But make no mistake this process will be messy. And I would advise republicans not to rub their hands in glee just yet. You would be a fool to suggest unionist chaos and disunity will bring a United Ireland and quicker.

  • John Joe

    Garza, I think it would be foolish for anyone to rub their hands with glee at the moment. The most likely thing this could bring closer is a long hot summer.

  • NornIroner,

    I am just curious, but UTV stated yesterday that Peter Robinson is not a member of the Orange Order – even though he famously marched alongside Ian Paisley in L,Derry in 1986 – does anyone know if he is a member of the Orange Order or which prominent members of the DUP are not loyal members?

    Speaking at the launch of OrangeFest in July 2008, Robinson explained to the Orange fraternity gathered that he never joined the Orange Order as he didn’t join organisations he wouldn’t have time to participate in and give his all to.

    He’d received a fair amount of gentle banter that night over not being a member.

  • BryanS
  • Dewi

    Paisley not in Orange Order either.

  • BryanS

    Surely Paisley has his own version of the Orange order in the same way as he has his own version of the presbyterian church?

  • Billy Boyce

    Nor in Independent Order either – contrary to myth. He never was a member and did not found it -it wss founded in 1903

  • danielmoran

    Garza [1] You can tell Sinn Fein have judged it correctly by not walking out yet, by the two clearly rattled DUP men on nolan yesterday and today. Campbell really must be losing it to have allowed nolan to lure him into refusing about ten times the same question. I know he’s not the sharpest knife in the DUP drawer but this morning’s effort was priceless, and it’s thanks to the shinners that the Duppers are tearing away at the seams in this fashion now.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    All the usual suspects.
    As has been observed O’Neill…Faukner…Timble…Robinson.
    Unionism always lurches one way in a crisis and has always lost out as a result.
    Its a lesson that Sinn Féin have learned better than unionists. So no real reason for any Republican/Nationalist to care.
    Its heads SF win (Robbo agrees but loses the McCreas and about two others to TUV) and if the DUP reject we go to an election where unionism will be more fragmented and no real change in SF/SDLP.

    Nelson McCausland…I expect the only reason he is not a dissenter is because he is on the Executive.
    And Jeffrey is marginalised……..how can he keep a low profile after the Westminster Election is declared?

  • danielmoran

    FHJ msg 9. Wee Jeffrey will be negociating his return to UUP [maybe that explains the long absence from airwaves recently. but i’d say they’ll prevent that. they’re not total fools, are they?

  • cut the bull

    I saw Paul Berry out for a walk in Belfast City centre today he was smiling like a Cheshire cat.

  • Neil

    I can only imagine what the craic pertaining to the ‘Weffery’ business is. But I’m starting to build a picture.

  • [quote][i]Surely Paisley has his own version of the Orange order in the same way as he has his own version of the presbyterian church? ……
    Posted by BryanS on Feb 03, 2010 @ 02:39 PM [/i][/quote]

    I can’t help always thinking that that sort of thing, starting up your own church and religion, just like setting up a Faith Foundation after starting a war, is just a tax dodge and unlikely front for laundering flash cash payments.

  • joeCanuck

    Getting back to topic, 3 questions:
    1. Who discarded the secret ballots into the wastepaper basket?
    2. Was the janitor who retrieved them an SDLP or SF supporter?
    3. Who did the Irish News employ to identify who wrote the yeses and nos?

  • FitzjamesHorse

    joecanuck,
    for the most part it was hardly rocket science. Indeed the question mark against some names (the McCreas and Maurice Morrow) seems to be too cautious.
    I dont think many of us would have much difficulty in betting the farm on that.
    I have no idea who Diana Rusk, the political orrespondent of the Irish News is but she has not exactly gone out on a limb with the story.
    A SF supporting janitor…well more likely nothing found in a wastepaper basket just mood music, previous firm, and internal politicking.

    But who was the one MLA NOT at the meeting who voted by proxy. Surely not “our man in London”?

  • joecanuck – Who is she? Diane’s the IN’s chief political correspondent, and from what I’ve seen, asks pretty good questions and seems to have a good set of contacts.

  • The Impartial Observer

    Critical Alien,

    If the reason for pushing that application through is only the level of “support” then quite honestly that stinks! If Planning Service had been minded to approve it then 500 objections wouldn’t have changed their minds. Those letters were clearly pro-forma letters given to people to sign, the obvious question is who produced and circulated them?

  • Bungditin

    Impartial Observer
    I think the point is that this planning application is contrary to the Belfast Area Plan and the planning policy for protecting open spaces, of which Knock Golf Club is a very attractive one, protected for 40 years! Approval has been forced through on cobbled together community benefits despite an objection from the community!

    Granted, planning is never a black and white issue and often “professional judgement” will vary between planners. What is very very unusual and uncomfortable here is that the entire Belfast planning team responsible for reaching this decision, declined to sign off the approval. This was reinforced by the disclaimer added by the section head, which required the unusal step of having to draft in a “rent a planner” to sanction the decision.

    The Planning Service will argue that the decision was taken at a higher level in the interest of the public, but this must not be equated with those in charge know more about planning than the planners proposing refusal. When an entire team decline to support this approval and are overruled by their superiors in such a manor, make no mistake this is always down to political interference!