Fragmented Unionism and Broad Churches…

It has long been the formula within political Unionism that if a Unionist party is both united and able to accommodate a broad church of Unionist opinion then it will be the dominant Unionist party. In many ways this formula has never been attained within political Unionism, however, in recent times it’s becoming more difficult to find a party that can solve this formula, and never has this been more apparent than now. However, is the formula relevant in 2021 …

Read more…

The two races to succeed Arlene Foster…

We’ve heard the names. Barely an hour had passed from news breaking about a letter aimed at removing Arlene Foster from her leadership of the DUP, of Unionism and of the Northern Ireland Executive, and already names of willing replacements were circulating. But there’s something unusual about this process that hasn’t been commented on to the extent I’d expected. The names you’ll have heard are being put forward for DUP Leader, but have any been advanced for the position of …

Read more…

Arlene Foster to step down as leader on 28 May and as First Minister at end of June

Arlene Foster’s statement this afternoon … A short time ago I called the Party Chairman to inform him that I intend to step down as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party on the twenty-eighth of May and as First Minister of Northern Ireland at the end of June. It is important to give space over the next few weeks for the Party Officers to make arrangements for the election of a new leader. When elected I will work with the …

Read more…

Who can save the DUP?

In December of 2016 when Jonathan Bell revealed to Stephen Nolan the extent of the Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI) scandal, Arlene Foster’s tenure as leader of the DUP was over. This was a sliding doors moment for the DUP, Unionism, and Northern Ireland as a whole, by remaining in charge Arlene Foster has undoubtedly damaged all three entities when this scenario was avoidable had she resigned at the time. This week a significant number of DUP elected representatives including over …

Read more…

If Arlene Foster Goes, Who Steers The DUP Ship?

Rumours circulating on social media today, as well as reporting by The News Letter’s Sam McBride, indicate that Arlene Foster’s time at the helm of the DUP, and as First Minister, is coming to a close. If rumours are to be believed (and we all need a big dash of salt these days) then this is something outside of the First Minister’s immediate control. With plummeting polling numbers showing the DUP to drop below Sinn Fein in next year’s Assembly …

Read more…

Unionism in a tailspin is bad for Unionism but it’s bad for everyone in Northern Ireland too…

For some time now I have been voicing grave concerns about the direction in which Unionism is travelling in and indeed the underlying problems that have hamstrung it, however, over the last week we have seen Unionism and Loyalism in a tailspin, and as both groupings begin to lose control, pockets of violence have broken out across Northern Ireland. The core issues that have stymied Unionism at present are as follows: – Leadership vacuum – Lacking a vision – Incompetence …

Read more…

Arlene must tell us if she agrees with Peter Robinson’s option of Assembly withdrawal to fight the protocol

Peter Robinson under arrest at Clontibret 1986 Arlene Foster has all but declared the DUP’s lack of confidence in the UK government’s efforts to renegotiate the protocol. From the sidelines her predecessor Peter Robinson is  tempting her to contemplate doing something more dramatic about it than protest. With his acute ear he has picked up the drumbeats not only from the DUP core but from the loyalist undergrowth. Cannily  attempting to insure against taking the blame for another “flegs” debacle, …

Read more…

DUP Resuffle: Edwin Poots steps down as DAERA Minister

DUP MLA, Edwin Poots has announced he is standing down tonight as Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs to facilitate medical treatment. He will be replaced by former Junior Minister, Gordon Lyons. Who will in turn be replaced by Gary Middleton from Foyle. The First Minister, Arlene Foster said; “We give Edwin our best wishes and assure him and his family of our prayers.  This is a temporary change, and we look forward to having Edwin back at work, …

Read more…

Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill make televised address over COVID-19

  The First and Deputy First Minister have made a televised address following Boris Johnson. There was nothing new announced from yesterday, it was a restatement of the message they have been giving for the past 24 hours. The new thing was how the form of communication. Looking back through the records (Slugger readers will correct me if I am wrong) this is the first time in nearly 52 years that this has happened. A leader(s) of a devolved administration …

Read more…

Some thoughts on leadership within Unionism…

When talking about Unionism in Northern Ireland, one of the most frequent issues brought up is leadership. Looking at Sinn Fein, the SDLP, and Alliance, there is an abundance of effective leadership on display with more in reserve if the need arises. Unionism, by contrast, is not experiencing similar fortunes, and this has become an issue. Never before has leadership within Unionism been so problematic, especially during a time that could eventually define Northern Ireland. With a massive appetite for …

Read more…

NI Executive Office acting unlawfully in delaying introduction of victims compensation scheme

Not unexpectedly, given Mr Justice McAlinden’s comments during the two-day hearing, Belfast High Court has ruled that the NI Executive Office is, indeed, acting unlawfully in failing to implement the victims payment scheme.  Or, rather, the NI deputy First Minister is acting unlawfully… From the summary of judgement [pdf file] It is incumbent upon the Executive Office to forthwith designate a Department under paragraph 2(1) of Schedule 1 to the Victims’ Payments Regulations 2020 to exercise the administrative functions of …

Read more…

The Foster/O’Neill relationship is one that is important for us all.

SKY News Ireland Correspondent, David Blevins held a joint interview with Arlene Foster and Michele O’Neill which was aired this morning. RTE’s Tommie Gorman has an interesting piece online today about the relationship between the two and some of the previous power-sharing bids in the past which is worth a read.  When devolution returned in January this year, there was no fan fare. On that rainy Saturday standing in the Great Hall, all of us who are nerds were watching …

Read more…

DUP Conference – subdued members reminded that NI has new identities that need space to grow and prosper #dup19

The DUP conference included multiple references to ‘next generation unionism’. The days of Union Flags being left on delegates’ seats to be waved with proud fervour during the leaders’ speech now seem to be over. Shouts of “for she’s a jolly good fellow” have also been banished, along with Willie McCrea’s singing from the front. The conference is now more sober in its organisation, as is the mood.

DUP Leader backs recalling the Assembly

Arlene Foster; “We would support this call. Our Assembly team met on Monday and agreed to seek a recall of the Assembly. Our MLAs will return to the Chamber without pre-condition. There are serious matters emanating from the NI (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 which should be decisions made in Stormont. We urge other MLAs who oppose the extreme liberalisation of our abortion law, to step outside any Party shackles and join us in recalling the Assembly. It’s time to …

Read more…

Arlene Foster and Leo Varadkar must do business together on Brexit after last night’s ice breaker

The most important thing that Arlene Foster has just done is to talk to Leo Varadkar for the first time in ages. This was a meeting that was apparently kept under wraps until it had happened.  Only a short time before, the Dublin government were saying they were hoping for a meeting “soon.” This brief encounter  opens up the possibility of genuine north-south cooperation to help hammer out an agreement on the border – and perhaps the Assembly – that …

Read more…

Foster; We welcome the decision to hold a Queen’s Speech marking the start of a new session of Parliament

DUP Leader, Arlene Foster; “This has been the longest Parliamentary Session since the Union of England and Scotland in 1707. We welcome the decision to hold a Queen’s Speech marking the start of a new session of Parliament on 14 October where the Government will set out its new domestic legislative agenda. As outlined in the Confidence and Supply Agreement in 2017, the terms of that Agreement will also be reviewed in advance of the new Session. We originally envisaged …

Read more…

Nigel Dodds speaks out. But is the DUP’s uncompromising stance any more than cover for living with the backstop?

After the chaos of last week, leading media reflect sharply differing views on the prospects for a third meaningful vote on Tuesday. The Leave – supporting Telegraph newspapers have emerged as the unlikely cheerleaders for Mrs May’s battered deal.  If the deal passes, No 10 officials say the necessary legislation will have cleared the Commons by April 25, paving the way for a new Brexit Day in the final week of May or first week of June, according to the …

Read more…

Slugger TV reviews the political year of 2018

Slugger TV: Episode 21 from Northern Visions NvTv on Vimeo. Panel this month are Alan Meban, Andersonstown News columnist Andree Murphy and Commentator, Martin McAuley.   David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs Poots “Ultimately it was my intention had we not got success on the Protocol… then I would have been prepared to pull Paul Givan out of that job”Jeffrey Donaldson declares his candidacy for DUP …

Read more…

Michelle & Arlene: Ulster Says Snow … making political satire out of stasis (Accidental Theatre, 6/7/13 December)

The fourth in the series of Michelle and Arlene satirical plays – Ulster Says Snow! – is due to hit the stage of Accidental Theatre in Belfast’s Shaftesbury Square next week. Running alongside the Human Rights Festival, Rosemary Jenkinson hopes that this new show can explore many different rights, rather than just being a narrow snapshot of local politics.

The DUP are waking up to the idea that Fortress Ulster has no future. They should be encouraged, not abused

They are still talking in euphemisms.  They are desperate to avoid finding themselves suddenly on the losing side without any notion of the outcome. Goodness knows what Theresa May can offer to sell the withdrawal agreement when she visits Northern Ireland  on her nationwide tour. Experience of local negotiations argues strongly against side deals and the arguments have been so well rehearsed already. Entirely wisely, the DUP are for once hinting at a solution to the backstop conundrum other than …

Read more…