Yesterday was a historic day (in media terms anyway) as Peter Robinson gave his first interview in five years to the Irish News. Why Robinson decided to freeze out the provinces top selling newspaper I don’t know but the papers political reporter, John Manley said that
there was nothing in the DUP Leader’s demeanour to suggest relations were frosty.
So we can only assume that the fences have been mended and Robinson will be giving more interviews to the Irish News in the future. In the interview Robinson admitted that he does read the newspaper.
But what I want to focus on is something he has repeated in this interview, and that is his pitch for Catholics to start voting for the DUP. Robinson believes, but does not give figures for, his assertion that many Catholics actually do vote for the party at the moment, but as Manley notes this message was slightly obscured by his party’s strong rhetoric over the flags protests.
Robinson believes that the DUP’s pro-business approach would be an attractive feature to many Nationalists who do not fit in with the SDLP and Sinn Fein’s left wing stance. In addition to this, the party’s stance on moral issues would appeal particularly to conservative Catholics who are becoming content with the idea that Northern Ireland should remain within the union.
When I read comments like this from the First Minister, I cannot help but think of Terence O’Neill who famously made the same punt about Catholics which I need not remind you did not work out very well.
These are just some snippets of the interview but the entire thing is worth a read as Manley probed him on parading and his future plans.
Do you think we will see more Catholics voting for the DUP in the years to come?
One interesting side note: Robinson pretty much gave his endorsement for Gavin Robinson to stand for East Belfast at the next election.
Interview with John Manley about his interview with Robinson