“we’re all a bit punch drunk already. But it’s the only show in town.”

Few people have as close up a perspective on what divides the DUP and Sinn Fein as David Gordon:

Given the Sinn Fein electoral surge, you can guarantee that unionist unity and unionist turnout will be major themes of the next Assembly poll. And for all its damaging losses last week, it has still, if anything, tightened its grip on unionism, given the UUP’s woes and the TUV’s failure to make inroads.

The last DUP-Sinn Fein Executive collapsed in the most spectacular and acrimonious of circumstances. Yet the two parties still triumphed comfortably over the Opposition. That’s a remarkable situation.

There’s neither much love nor trust between the two after this bruising election. In fact, there never has been. The past ten years have been characterised by controversy, intermittent breakdowns, calling for the ref, and always the alcoholic’s promise of yet another fresh start.

But, Gordon warns, if Stormont collapses like the last time (October 2002), they can expect little help or indulgence from London, Dublin of Washington:

Back in the early years after the 2002 collapse, the talk was of government here being kept in “warm storage” under direct rule. Nothing too radical on the policy front, the place kept ticking along until devolution returned. That changed under Peter Hain, when more controversial policies like water charges were pushed.

The chances are that Tory direct rule would become more like the Hain era sooner rather than later. Secretary of State James Brokenshire might not want to do anything too dramatic, particularly early on, but budgetary pressures will mean that some unpopular decisions can’t be ducked.

Will he look at those policy areas where people here enjoy a better deal than his constituents in England? Will household taxes, student fees and welfare reform protections be in his sights? There’s an awful lot at stake in the talks at Stormont.

Like Haye and Bellew late on Saturday night, we’re all a bit punch drunk already. But it’s the only show in town.

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  • Mary Anna Quigley

    Dysfunctional , NI have Created these monster’s
    tribes rule
    Thrives on hatred them & us
    Hatred continues bigots bothsides- Alternative offered hope was rejected- power control greed dictatorship, fascists rule. Back to direct rule
    for sake of our generations
    NI IS A NO HOPER!!!!

  • Ciaran O’Neill

    Do you ever post anything sensible at all? Even something that can resemble a critique?

  • Gavin Smithson

    Perhaps Foster’s crocodile analogy was misguided but she had a point. So if DUP relent and agree to pass equal marriage and Irish Language Act along with Foster stepping aside pending RHI inquiry report, would SF then live happily ever after?

    I don’t think so. They’ll think of something else to bring the assembly down in the not too distant future.

    It’s a dysfunctional marriage where one partner threatens divorce when the other leaves the toilet seat up but both stay together because they’re paid to do so.

    It seems most of the electorate do vote for keeping the other side out. Tribalism is derided a lot but it exists and thrives. I think tribal voting will stop when we see their other side not belittling or sneering at us.

    I support the DUP tribally but I will vote for them in the future but I don’t support their policies. I just don’t like the idea of republicans sticking their tongues out at people like me. If both sides stopped commemorating terrorists, making speeches from Orange Halls or brandishing flags like weapons as they do in many count centres then that would go a long way.

  • Gavin Smithson

    I am thinking the same. People have asked her this in the past but she doesn’t respond in kind. I suspect she maybe a victim and I mean that charitably. I hope she’s ok.

  • Lionel Hutz

    What is David Gordon role now. Are the public paying for a DUP Sinn Fein spin doctor without a functioning assembly. Who does he serve? Sinn Fein DUP? the theoretical new executive?

  • Brian Walker

    What would really be interesting from David is insight into how from his short time on board the DUP-SF relationship declined and how the Executive actually functioned. Were the early days after May last year when all was hopeful all spin or was there something positive there? Did McGuinness hold it all together until it fell from his limp hand? Why did Arlene lose it so badly after a promising start?. Is O’Neill a puppet or real flesh and blood? This would also be useful for improving the system David wouldn’t qualify for Alistair Campbell type fees but they’d still be worth a bob or two

  • Alvin Straight

    The problem is the DUP and unionism in general will have to increasingly swallow more and more bitter pills with the bitterest of all always lurking in the background. With some historically more equal than others the equality will mostly play one way.
    When the inevitable circling of the wagons ensues they will be less inclined to take the medicine on offer.

  • Eoin O’Donnell

    As long as it’s a socially progressive crocodile would you care?

  • Msiegnaro

    Is there genuine mistrust between the DUP and SF? Yesterday photos on social media showed Sammy Wilson showing John O’Dowd something on his phone and both were laughing.

  • Conchúr Ó Conghaile

    It’s time for a radical solution. Joint Authority. London can look after us on Mondays,Wednesdays and Fridays and Dublin can look after us Tuesdays,Thursdays and Saturdays. They will each take control on alternating Sundays.

    That way everyone will be happy

  • Eoin O’Donnell

    I dunno bit of fiddle and a drum and that’s a corker…..

    “Dysfunctional NI, created monster tribes,
    Rule, thrives on hatred, them and us,
    Hatred, continues with bigots on boths side,
    Alternative hope rejected with powerlust.
    Control and Greed. Dictators and Faaaaaaaascists,
    Let’s go old school and back to direct rule,
    for the sake of our generations socieeeeeeeeeeety”

    1-2-3-4 NI IS A NO HOPER
    1-2-3-4 NI IS A NO HOPER

  • Conchúr Ó Conghaile

    It might be hard for you to understand but you can still disagree with someone politically and still have a friendly personal relationship with them.


  • burnboilerburn


  • Conchúr Ó Conghaile

    ‘Multiple exclamation marks are a sure sign of a diseased mind’

    Terry Pratchett.

  • Ciaran O’Neill

    That is fecking brilliant hahahaha

  • Msiegnaro

    Thanks for the kisses. So in reality they’re all quite friendly?

  • Obelisk

    It might be the closest contact he’s had with a Republican since Martin O’Muilleoir back in their city council days.

  • Gavin Smithson

    Really? If this is true then the people are being treated like fools

  • Gavin Smithson

    What does joint authority mean? Which country do we pay tax to? Which country pays for our public services?

    If ROI has a say in our affairs then it would need to stump up the dosh

  • ted hagan

    Arlene Foster should be allowed to step down with a degree of dignity, citing her ‘disappointing’ performance and therefore allowing her party to resume as if she had never happened. It is the least worst way of avoiding humiliation and allows the DUP to start afresh with a new, more conciliatory leader. It is the decent thing to do for her party and Sinn Fein should allow her to do it respectfully without any crowing.
    Then at least we can get down to business.

  • Granni Trixie

    DG may not presently have a dog in the race but he did and probably still feels he has to justify the way things have gone, I think it’s too soon to regard him as a neutral observer (“freed”only since last FRiday?).

    This is the prism through which I view his comments. For example he implies a continuation of the DUP sectarian election campaign when he might have talked up lessons learnt. One of which is that appealing to the whole community not just Unionists might have paid off and be good for NI. Or that it’s not just a case of a battle between DUP And SF but of people’s expectations being dashed in terms of how the DUP and Sf do business – with transparency and accountability.

    I wish DG all the best post Stomont but think he needs a period of decontamination,

  • Zorin001

    I’ve always heard anecdotes of a more cosy relationship in the Stormont canteen than in front of the cameras but its always hard to know whats true or not.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Had they passed the ILA in the beginning the it wouldn’t have had the chance to become an issue but instead they gloated, dismissed it of hand and then said “never!”.

    If one doesn’t want to feed crocodiles then one shouldn’t incubate them in the first place.

  • Fear Éireannach

    I don’t agree with people sticking their tongues out at people, but these issues of homosexual marriage (which I do not agree with) and recognition of the Irish language are what the majority of people in NI want. The DUP have foolishly taken these issues as a personal affront to them, when they are not. This unreasonable position puts everyone against them and prevents them from being able to bring much pressure to bear on SF for this that they might be doing. Likewise with Brexit, the DUP made no reasonable case that NI would be be better off and they have simply ignored the issues that people have identified, they simply want Brexit in the hope that it will hurt “themuns>” more than us. They may give in on the marriage etc, but people will remember Brexit for a long time.

  • Msiegnaro

    Another look at the Wilson photo could be a case of him passing his phone to Danny Kinnohan with O’Dowd caught in the middle.

    However Hamilton and O’Dowd were definitely joking together.

  • chrisjones2

    The only Unionist reason for Stormont is to feed all those hungry would be politicians and keep them off the dole

    Operationally direct rule is faster, cheaper and less sectarain and prone to waste. If we are forced into it Brokenshire should have a dynamic programme to modernise the whole system from libel laws, through gay marriage, abortion, integrated education, Irish Langage and (the biggie) the radical health reforms needed for the next 50 years

  • Granni Trixie

    Looks like he left the job last Friday.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    True for some, not for others. Some surprises too.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    That’s me!!!!!!!!!

  • Obelisk

    And you don’t have to share power with Nationalists! What’s not to like!

  • Obelisk

    Joint Authority would probably be an acceptable compromise but it would need serious investigation to be fleshed out into a proposal.

    But I am under no illusions.

    The only time Unionism will seriously consider Joint Authority as a compromise will be at a point when Irish Nationalism is on the cusp of winning a border poll.

    In other words, Unionism will come round to the acceptable compromise when we no longer need to compromise.

  • Keith

    I would like to see a local Northern Ireland solution to the same-sex marriage issue. We shouldn’t just be thinking in terms of replicating what has been implemented elsewhere.

    The Westminster government created this problem when they introduced civil partnerships, creating a difference between same-sex unions and heterosexual unions.

    I would like to see Northern Ireland create a single Civil Partnership arrangement, covering both types of union. It should be called Civil Partnership or something similar, and not officially called ‘marriage’. Christian churches and other religious groups can carry on marrying people, with marriage enjoying the same civil legal status.

    We would then have equality under the law, but the term “marriage”, which is cherished by Christians and others, would be reserved for the form of union administered by churches.

  • 1729torus

    If NI manages to stay in the Single Market, local regulators might be administered or supervised from Dublin on behalf of London or the EU.

  • Mary Anna Quigley


  • Granni Trixie

    Thats what I would like to see too. What I would not like to see is her being put in charge of another Ministry as a sop. The degree of incompetence and lack of accountability she has revealed this last year makes her unfit for such an office.

  • Mary Anna Quigley
  • Mary Anna Quigley

    Sinners at work Gerry sheep

  • Paddy Reilly

    No, Sundays should be reserved for Anarchy, faction-fighting and Donnybrook fair.

  • Pasty

    Why did Nigel Dodds state today that Nationalists won’t decide who the leader of Unionism is, no Nationalist has ever sort to appoint the leader of Unionism what has been said is that Arlene Foster can not be endorsed in the Office of First/Deputy First Minister and that she would have to stand aside until the report from the enquiry into the RHI £490Million loss that she brought forward. The DUP can appoint Arlene as Leader and she can appoint someone on a temporary basis to the post of First/Deputy First Minister – that is SHE will Decide and Appoint the person no one else. So what is the issue, Arlene said that we didn’t need an expensive election and that we need politicians in place to oversee Brexit talks for the North, so why is she not taking the actions needed to get the Assembly working next week. At the end of the day anyone she appoints is unlikely to take actions or make decisions without her endorsement and she will be there in the talks Leading the DUP. Peter Robinson stood aside twice for the good of the people and to ensure there was no accusations of interference or undue influence on his part – so can’t Arlene follow Peter Robinsons lead and do what is Right !!!

  • Ciaran O’Neill

    I see the link you posted above about republicans “attempting to rewrite history” all because we have the temerity to seek justice for our loved ones murdered by the British state. You can rhyme off all the nonsensical one liners you like but if you have a problem with how we’re seeking justice then take it up with the trigger men who done the killing and their superiors who gave them the orders and their successors who refuse to engage us with the truth to this very day. As long as there is one of us alive then we’ll continue to hold the British state to account, no matter how long it takes. We aren’t the ones re-writing history. We’re telling the truth about what happened in this country

  • Msiegnaro

    This is a mischievous post, Dodds is claiming that as the DUP edged the election they are entitled to appoint who they like as FM.

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    You’re making bold claims if you think these are important issues with strong opinions in favour for the majority. They are not, rather one side if the argument has simply been repeated endlessly and endlessly in the liberal media (without giving the full arguments) as of recent as they have been defeated 5 times, and most people are fed up listening about them, yet the whiners won’t take no as for answer. DUP and UUP need to do what is RIGHT and sensible and join together give both another big firm slap in the face NO.

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    That’s the worst and most destructive kind of all.

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    You clearly don’t understand how negotiation works. If the DUP wanted they could use it as a bargaining chip for a very limited act for something else if needed. Even better, none at all – let the whingers whinge.

  • Damien Mullan

    It’s mandatory coalition, so equally Sinn Fein can refuse to nominate for the Deputy post, and so goes the institutions. When Sean McBride refused to accept Fine Gael leader Richard Mulcahy as Taoiseach after the election of 1948, due to Mulcahy’s hard stance against Anti-Treaty forces during the Civil War in 1922/23, Fine Gael decided for the best of the country to acquiesce, and so tapped John A. Costello to become Taoiseach. It’s called putting country before party. The same arrogance that mobilized nationalists to turn out in numbers not seen since 1998 will be the bane of stubborn intransigent unionist leaders from here on out. If this election has proven anything, it’s that Unionist majoritarianism needs nationalist apathy to prevail, without nationalist apathy, it’s even-stevens.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I see, so we’ll see a cunning deployment of this card at a later date shall we?

    If the DUP wanted they could have avoided this election so pardon me if i don’t share your faith…

    “Never! Never! Never! Oh alright then…” more like.