Alex Kane devotes his News Letter column to an assay of Peter Robinson and his bid for legacy:
What Peter Robinson is selling is the DUP at the helm of a confident, peaceful, stable Northern Ireland. The perception he offers is that success is ultimately dependent upon a confident, growing DUP. He sells the prospect of increasing numbers of Roman Catholics buying into this perception. He sells the prospect of a shared future and sharing society being the natural consequence of his long term strategy, with the unnamed believers in a united Ireland being dismissed as a minority within a minority.’
Yet, not everything stacks up perfectly for the DUP leader:
The other factors which can’t be ignored are that Robinson still seems content with an us-and-them carve-up with Sinn Fein (knowing that a sectarian headcount remains the basis for elections); he has been unable to agree a ‘shared future’ strategy with them or even the SDLP; he has been unable to agree a Programme for Government which has a unique Northern Ireland agenda and vision; and he seems reasonably comfortable with the Executive being more about management and administration than being a normal, accountable, fully democratic government.
And he concludes:
Maintaining the DUP’s position as the lead party of unionism and the largest party in Northern Ireland is, of course, important to him: and it is possible that his recent set-piece, thinking-aloud speeches are simply geared to that one end. But he is now, for better or worse, the key thinker and prime mover within mainstream unionism, so I really do hope that he is guided by an ambition greater than that of the DUP’s self-interest.
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