Under a Red Sky: Big Drum Politics from the East

East Belfast DUP MLA Robin Newton has released a press statement in regard to the developing Red Sky – Nelson McCausland story and in the process has given credence to those identifying a sectarian agenda in the DUP’s approach to this story to date.

Here’s Newton’s statement as carried by the DUP website (my italics):

“It speaks volumes about Jim Allister and his politics that when the DUP in East Belfast is fighting to protect 400 jobs all he can do is engage in mudslinging against fellow unionists. It does not surprise me that on this crucial issue Jim Allister chooses to side with Sinn Fein and the SDLP rather than support fellow unionists.  Such an approach by Jim Allister fully explains why his party was rejected by the electorate in East Belfast in the Assembly election. 

As an East Belfast MLA, I will continue to make representations for on behalf of companies in my constituency.  I’m in the business of protecting jobs and ensuring East Belfast is not disadvantaged as a result of bias within the Housing Executive.

Jim Allister has allowed the focus to be shifted from lack of good governance in the Housing Executive and is providing cover to those elements who want to attack the Minister rather than answer difficult questions.”

Newton’s agenda was clear: portray the dispute as an us versus themmuns row, neatly tying in with similar news emerging from East Belfast recently. By stating that he’s in the business of protecting jobs and ensuring East Belfast is not disadvantaged as a result of bias within the Housing Executive,  he is clearly insinuating that there is an anti-protestant/ unionist bias within the Housing Executive, something the DUP repeated in a statement provided to BBC Newsline tonight, which suggested there was “more than a whiff of sectarian motivation” to the termination of Red Sky’s contract.  

Thus, Jim Allister is portrayed as a Lundy character for siding with the nationalists and the DUP are clearly presented as the protestant bulwark for loyalist East Belfast.

Won’t that go down well at the bonfires and subsequent parades in the East.

The final paragraph does not sit well with the first two paragraphs. Indeed, before the party adopted the sectarian line of defense implicit in the statement, it had managed to stay on message with the good governance narrative echoed in the third paragraph which now appears to have been merely a smokescreen strategy.

On a side note, with regard to the Robinson- inspired nationalist outreach initiative, it doesn’t augur well for that pitch for catholic voters….

  • Mac

    I suppose Jim could always counter with an argument along the lines of
    HE now has to pay twice to fix themmunzes’ houses, so usenz won’t get any new housing or much needed repairs as there’s no money left, and the only ones that profited are the DUP’s ‘mates’ in RSH.

    It’s all depressingly predictable.

  • Cahir O’Doherty

    The best thing about this is the lovely doublethink that the DUP seem to adopt when it suits them to trot out the us vs themuns argument. No mention of Alex Maskey coming out and supporting the DUP line that there are no improper contacts between DUPers and Red Sky.

    ‘It’s them nationalists that are against us, but only some, and not the ones with most power, and not the bad ones, and not the ones from the Short Strand, but still..it’s themuns that are killin your jobs that are yours by right’

    It’d also be interesting to see what the political/religious breakdown of Red Sky employees is, wouldn’t it be great if that ‘whiff of sectarianism’ led to more Catholics/Nationalists losing work!?

  • Mr Angry

    What a totally shocking surprise.

  • Charlie Sheens PR guru


    Mark McGregor helpfully supplied the following link from the equality commision outlining such breakdowns for private companies with contracts from the public sector.


  • Reader

    The slagging match between Jim Allister and the DUP is entertaining enough, but not a million miles from the sort of slagging that goes on between SF and the SDLP in the run up to elections. Do both parties not claim to protect their constituents from bias, while accusing the other party of undermining their efforts *and* blaming the other party for any friction?
    And the actual quotes were clearly not sufficiently damning, since the first two people to respond to the blog were compelled to make up some extra ones.

  • nightrider

    Jim seems to be doing the general public a big favour by exposing the gravy train riders. Nelson McCausland was bristling with indignation on Newsline tonight. DUP Ministers often had a meal with BBC personnel he countered the charge about the Red Sky CEO. All part and parcel of the gravy train baggage.
    DUP Ministers knew OF the RS Executive, in much the same way IPJr knew OF Seymour Sweeney I expect.

  • Cynic2

    Are Prods allowed to post on this thread or do we have to go to Pete’s?

  • Chris Donnelly


    Come on now, you’re long enough about these parts to know the door’s always open to allcomers.

    Please share your thoughts- here, there and everywhere!

  • iluvni

    Must say, Allister has been splendid so far in the Assembly.
    He’s been a one man wrecking crew bashing away at the cocksure DUP. Great stuff.
    Pity the UUP hadnt the same ability.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Allister is pure box office. If I lived up in them parts he would be getting a second preference

  • thethoughtfulone

    Tme for a bit of accuracy here.

    I’ve checked with all my contacts in the East (of Belfast) and can state beyond any shadow of a doubt that there in definately only one “m” in “them’uns”.

    Now let that be the end of the matter!

  • Lionel Hutz

    Anyone else beginning to wonder what the Short Strand Siege was all about? What was discussed at Stormont Castle that day?????

  • Cynic2


    Thanks for the Yellow. I am sorry but I am unrepentant on this one. Twice in two weeks we have posts by Pete and Chris on the same topic within 45 mins. I fully recognise the plurality of views arguments etc and value the contributions of both of them – indeed I have debated with both from very different perspectives in an open, positive an d fair manner.

    However, on some topics I think there is a real danger here of creating an intellectual version of North Belfast where we have blog walls that separate different strands of argument. I therefore satirically posted the same comment on both blogs to highlight this. Mea culpa – but it was deliberate and well meant.

    Meanwhile I wear my Yellow with pride!

    PS I am cross posting this on Pete’s blog for the benefit of any posters there who wont read Pete’s

  • Cynic2


    To see the above – I don’t always agree with you but know that I will always get a good and fair argument here. My point is that parallel blogs by you and Pete (both equally valid in their own rights) sometimes tend to lead to parallel separate discussions

  • Cynic2

    “what the Short Strand Siege was all about?”

    ….it was what we call in Belfast a Grant Application for Community Workers

  • Cynic2

    Newton is an idiot. If NIHE let the contract to new suppliers (As they should) it will create an protect more jobs with them. Hopefully some of those jobs will be filled by competent tradespeople and the companies in question will bill once for the job at the right rate.

  • Rory Carr

    It is as though an arrested burglar was released on police bail pending trial and then the new Minister for Justice comes along and insists that he must be lodged in the victim’s home.

  • slmccni

    I think we must not get confused between a very flawed party trying to protect a business within their constituency and the UVF leader in East Belfast throwing his toys at the Strand to get money – one is about protecting those that work, the other about protecting those that never ever will!

    Redsky have been treated with bias. This is not a new thing. When they had the contracts the HE on many occassions, as was revealed yesterday on UTV (seemingly the only real news in NI these days), that they drove redskys prices to the point where a joiner, spark, plumber at red sky was getting paid much less an hour than in other firms. This same practice exists with for example Agency Nurses. Some agencies charge the hospitals a higher than average rate and give the nurses an incentive. Others under cut and give the nurses pittance. The HE ensured that working people were discriminated against plain and simple and are now putting those under valued workers jobs at risk! the fact that it is viewed as a protestant firm is just an added slap in the face. People here are asking to see the equality break-down of their workforce. What about the HE?

    As a catholic I still don’t understand why it is ok and justified for us to cry discrimination at the drop of a hat but when protestants do it theyre basically told their imagining it and shut up. I find it perplexing…

  • jthree


    surely the hourly rate for Red Sky tradesman was decided by Red Sky management based on the amount they bid for contract?