DUP needs to watch its advocacy of what’s becoming its own minority enthusiasms

It’s been a rough week for Arlene and the DUP. Newton Emerson is clearly losing patience with the DUP leader’s impetuosity

After his career almost imploded in 2010, Robinson displayed convincing signs of humility and reflection, at least for a while.

Foster has met a few Gaelgoiri but she is still triangulating her position to imply she has not moved an inch. It is clear she feels herself to be the victim of a cunning republican plot – and that view looks increasingly justified as the Stormont deadlock drags on. But where is Foster’s admission of falling for this plot? What is her explanation for knowingly doing so? And where is her cunning?

In 2008, the Robinsons left out a wedding anniversary card from Gerry Adams, signed in Irish, on their three-ton hand carved stone mantelpiece. They made sure the Sunday Tribune saw it.

When the Sunday Independent asked Foster about Adams, she said: “He has a very strange personality. He wouldn’t be someone who I understand very well because he is not the norm of people who I would meet.”

Of course, Sinn Féin is enjoying this far too much for its manufactured outrage to be taken seriously. It is unionists who need to rail against Foster. She is simply not up to the task of leadership – and worse still, she looks incapable of improving.

My old mate Peter Geoghegan is after an explanation for huge (but entirely legally) registered expenses lodged by the DUP during the Brexit campaign last year. He won’t get one, other than this was the DUP doing its bit for the mainland Brexit cause.

In the meantime, you will remember SF claims to have spent less than 10k fighting what it now claims is a disaster for the whole island. [Wasn’t that worth more than a measly 10k? – Ed]. Probably, but since SF returns to the Electoral Commission are often more fiction than fact, we’ll never know.

Blondes, legal and transparent donations, hey, what’s next? Oh, I nearly forgot, and this is probably the more important thing. Right now, the DUP’s dominant plurality – refracted through power-sharing formulas – has put it on the wrong side of several majority popular issues.

Brexit, they may calculate, will cut up rough in the near term, but then continue to serve the Unionist interest over time by fundamentally altering the relationship of NI to a newly Westminster-centric UK state.

Others like Marriage Equality and even the Irish Language Act are more in the mould of the tar baby which matters to their socially conservative base, but things that are broadly unpopular.

Even the 51% backing for a border poll (to which Arlene once rather rashly shouted ‘bring it on’) is perhaps an indication there may be an embedded political reflex to almost everything the DUP opposes: bolstering the voices and advocacy of their opponents, regardless of its merits or demerits.

Finally, I’ve praised Ms Foster’s outreach to the Irish Language community (which senior party figures have much maligned in the past). It’s grand to talk the talk, but speaking out of both corners of the mouth only works for Sinn Fein in this part of the political biosphere.

As Steve Moore points out this morning, Mrs May shows how canning your base can create a broader appeal (and help keep the whole country together)… The question is, do they have the breadth and quality to do that?

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

  • chrisjones2

    Does Luxembourg not have a version of the Priory?

  • chrisjones2

    Yes it is. Cornwall has direct rule. The Midlands have direct rule …all perfectly democratic. People have councils and MPs to deal with their problems and represent them. Indeed, under Direct Rule an SOS NI would put us in an even more favoured position

  • chrisjones2

    “Tory cuts are going to devastate Unionist areas too.”

    Which Tory cuts are those?

    “Brexit, which is likely to be an economic disaster,”

    No it isn’t and subsidies are guaranteed to 2020

  • chrisjones2

    This is a rehash of the Sundays 2 weeks ago but its delicious to see the Nats demanding clarity on murky money. Can anyone remember how many NATs elected members are currently under investigation for fraud? I think its at least 5 but probably high

  • aquifer

    Thinking of those military transport planes flying along throwing flares off to distract the missiles. Br-exit is an entire anti-aircraft battery for the DUP.

    Tory English nationalists and Labourites are also under investigation, for electoral funding offences, but their planes cannot drop out of the red white and blue sky.

  • Backbencher

    As far as I see it the Slugger forum is a great Nationalists/republicans echo chamber.

    The vast majority of Unionists have no issue with the DUP receiving a donation which is ultimately used in support of Brexit. Provided is did not come from some illegal organisation I don’t have any problem (and I don’t believe the Constitutional Research Council or Scottish Tories fall into that category). It was used to good effect in what was a successful campaign.

    Now if Nat/Rep were honest brokers would they not be starting a little closer to home.
    I ask the question how much fuel lauding money, Northern Bank money etc was used to fight elections?

    Whenever you have cleaned up your own house give me a shout, and we can talk.

  • Backbencher

    Typical propaganda.

    Why will Brexit hit the farmers?
    Britain wants a free trade deal, if that happens, no issue. Alternatively if the EU insist on Tariffs, Britain will reciprocate and ROI farmers will be disadvantaged in the GB market. This in turn will provide a massive opportunity for NI farmers to fill the gap.

  • Backbencher

    Obviously your measure of excellence revolves more around what you agree with than something being factual correct

  • The Irishman

    Ffs Chris

  • The Irishman

    Have you proof Northern Bank money and fuel laundering money were used by “Nat/Rep” to fight elections?

  • The Irishman

    Did you just weaponise French with you selective use of it there…

  • Nevin

    “Foster has met a few Gaelgoiri but she is still triangulating her position to imply she has not moved an inch.”

    Arlene accepted an invitation from Our Lady’s Voluntary Grammar School, a Sisters of Mercy school in Newry. By so doing, she side-stepped the SF culture warriors as well as the myopic cloth-eared commenters. This and similar moves need to be seen in the context of a Culture Act, an act that would probably include lesser used languages, a military covenant and changes to bodies like the Parades Commission. This is a counter move but I don’t know if common ground can be agreed across the language and broader culture spectrum.

    From the Our Lady’s 2015 school inspectorate report:

    The senior leadership team, led most ably by a long-serving and highly strategic principal, provide outstanding leadership. They possess complementary leadership skills, set very high standards and expectations and inspire confidence and respect amongst the staff and the pupils. The senior leadership team are committed to empowering, supporting and enabling all members of the school community to achieve success both individually and collectively. This has resulted in an exceptionally engaged, ambitious, dynamic school community with a clear sense of identity and purpose.

    Why couldn’t our political governance system and mainstream media be more like this?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’m reminded in how Juncker is being viewed by the British press of a devastating respite which Pascal once made to the Duc de La Rochefoucauld’s constant reduction of all human endeavour to his perceived great sin, amour-propre. Pascal reproved Rochefoucauld “what is in any way wrong with liking ones-self?” And what is wrong with Juncker and Obama simply stating their own interest?

    Of course Juncker will have to “punish” Britain for leaving the EU, but somehow the UK press foolishly imagines that he should do otherwise! To me, the input of both Juncker and Obama was simply an attempt to inject some realism into the bilious balloon of fear and fantasy in which the “leave the EU” campaign was conducted, something most of us in NI understood when voting as a majority to remain. Even if one innocently still believed in the old Westphalian idea of sovereignty, which is long, long gone in contemporary world terms, membership of Europe effectively has long ago “spilt” that particular “milk” already, and any effort to return it to the bottle must expect to pick up a lot of inevitable “dirt” from the surface its been lying over. That’s the price of trying to undo something which has effectively facilitated the key changes Thatcher made to our economy, and looking to others now seriously inconvenienced by Britian’s move to validate their inconveniencing is foolish in the extreme.

  • Nevin

    I take a contrary view, Seaan; I think Juncker and Obama would have been well advised to keep quiet; their ill-advised interventions boosted the Leave camp.

    It’s hardly surprising that anti-UK parties across the UK should have supported the Remain camp.

  • Croiteir

    and how do you know that?

  • grumpy oul man

    So all GAs fault then gotha.

  • grumpy oul man

    A nd what if the hill opens and king arthur and his knights ride out to save England. About as likly as Brexit going well.

  • harmlessdrudge

    ROI farmers will be massively disadvantaged by hunger strikes, diets and the DIG FOR VICTORY AGAIN movement in the UK. Fantastic news for NI farmers. Who knew that the food smuggling might be lucrative.


    The brexit delusion is a joke that keeps on giving.

  • Skibo

    I believe there is good people in both parties also but as always both sections of the community will look at the other party through glasses that are 30 years old.
    We are in a new era and both parties should be judge for their actions of today.
    I think SF has both publicly and privately turned their back on the use of violence but not to the level where they will condemn volunteers from the past. They promote religious and civil liberties for all and not just the privileged few.

  • Skibo

    Can you tell me the last time you heard a SF representative defend the actions of Kingsmill?
    Can you tell me of the last time that you heard a Unionist politician discuss the actions of the Glenanne gang?
    I remember John Taylor congratulating the UVF for forcing the IRA to the negotiations table.
    Have you ever heard a Unionist politician condemn Loyalist violence without mentioning the IRA?

  • Skibo

    She would not be ditched. Neither would AF if she was not FM. They would still be heads of their relevant parties.
    When MMcG was appointed DFM, was GA ditched?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’d certainly agree, Nevin, that the “knee-jerk” response was there, but was always going to be the reaction to anyone telling our population the truth about what an exit from Europe would meant. But here, as with a few other things, we may have to disagree about the meaning of this. I don’t think hearing genuine home truths from people outside of Britain was any different in effect as to how it set off the “we’ll show them” reaction of most “leavers” in Britain, and of course, the DUP here.

    “Anti-UK” parties? Far from the whole story unless you count Cameron, etc over the water s anti-UK, or the UUP here! Mind you I’ve heard all of them described as broadly “anti-UK” in certain quarters………

  • Nevin

    Seaan, you are confusing speculation with truth.

  • grumpy oul man

    Could you perhaps tell us what this military convenant is.
    Will those who murdered innocent people benifit from it and what does it have to do with the irish language.
    And parades. Is there not a fair amount of money spent on these every year and again what does it have to do with the Irish language.
    AFs new found appreciation of the Irish language didnt stop the DUP from voting against a irish language officer in BBC a few days later.
    Actions speak louder than words.

  • grumpy oul man

    Of course he hasnt. He also seems completely unaware that the funding of poltical parties is monitered by the goverment and parties must show were the money comes from.

  • grumpy oul man

    Well come on, don’t leave us in suspense! Tell us where Chris’s post isn’t factually correct.

  • grumpy oul man


  • mickfealty

    When did you ever hear a politician with a long history of time spent within the Provisionals ever admit Kingsmill had anything to do with them?

  • Skibo

    I notice you commented on the first question and ignored the second or the third.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “Jesting Pilate”, Nevin…….

  • Nevin

    Perhaps Pilates would enhance your awareness, Seaan!!!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Perhaps you are unfamiliar with Sir Francis bacon’s essay “On Truth”, Nevin…..

    “What is truth? said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer. Certainly there be, that delight in giddiness, and count it a bondage to fix a belief; affecting free-will in thinking, as well as in acting. And though the sects of philosophers of that kind be gone, yet there remain certain discoursing wits, which are of the same veins, though there be not so much blood in them, as was in those of the ancients. But it is not only the difficulty and labor, which men take in finding out of truth, nor again, that when it is found, it imposeth upon men’s thoughts, that doth bring lies in favor; but a natural though corrupt love, of the lie itself.”

    Well, that just about sums up the climate of the “leavers” campaign……

  • Nevin

    Seaan, I wasn’t impressed by the ‘truths’ of the ‘leavers’ or the ‘remainers’. Any old yarn can be spun by those who indulge in cherry-picking.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Are you suggesting, Nevin, that these interventions where an inaccurate reflection of what can be expected, that as the leavers suppose, the world will be struggling to be the first to restore Britain to its proper place as “first nation” (my apologies to Seller and Yeatman)……