The caravan has moved on – without the DUP

Posted By: June 21, 2023



Distributed to Congress by Irish National Caucus.

 “Indomitable Belfast columnist  Brian Feeney continues to speak truth to power, and common sense to the DUP, who are behaving like the White Supremacists in the United States … Although there are differences in scope, intensity, and duration, there is little moral difference between Northern Ireland Protestant/Unionist/Loyalist supremacy and American White Supremacy. As I’ve been saying most of my life, the twin evils of this world are racism and sectarianism.”—Fr. Sean McManus.


Brian Feeney: The caravan has moved on – without the DUP.

Brian Feeney. Irish News. Belfast. Wednesday, June 21, 2023

“The dogs bark but the caravan moves on.”

Some say it’s an Arab proverb, others Turkish because it rhymes in Turkish: ürür, kervan yürür. No matter. It’s a stark image of a line of laden camels relentlessly plodding across the desert. The proverb means the world moves inexorably on heedless of temporary criticism or opposition.

The British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIGC) met on Monday in London, the second meeting this year.

According to the press release, its agenda covered a range of topics including security, education, citizens’ rights, energy and cyber-security, oh yes, and restoring the Stormont executive.

That item is not something the BIIGC has much control over because if they were to accommodate the DUP it would require modifying the Windsor Framework. That would require EU assent, which ain’t gonna happen.

Westminster, the parliament to which the DUP owes allegiance, passed the Framework by a whopping 515-29. The UK and EU are busily implementing its provisions.

Somehow the British government is going to have to locate, then penetrate, any connected synapses in DUP heads to convey the information that the caravan has moved on toward the horizon.


Here we come to the crux of the problem, the Ulster Unionist mindset. As Stuart Ward explains in his new book United Kingdom: a Global History of the End of Britain, unionists last century concocted the notion that the “democratically elected assembly at Westminster remained subordinate to some ethereal conception of the [Ulster Unionist] people whose interests it was duty-bound to serve. Should that duty be dishonored the will of the parliamentary majority could legitimately be defied”.

That’s what unionists did in 1912, 1974, and 1985, then add in years of your choice before and after.

That mindset is what is at the root of the crackpot, illogical, irrational position the DUP is advocating. It’s the fundamentally undemocratic idea that the famously sovereign British parliament has no right to pass legislation unionists feel threatens their notion of themselves as British subjects, even if it doesn’t.

That mindset they hold gives them the right to act unconstitutionally, though, of course, the DUP believes it’s the British government that has acted unconstitutionally. They have tested that outlandish belief in every court in the UK since 2020 and of course have been soundly stuffed because their notion is crackers.

As a result of that crackpot notion, the BIIGC will make no progress in convincing the DUP to return to Stormont. Past evidence indicates that unionists take years to realize that the caravan has moved on.

For example, it took from 1985 to 1992 to inveigle some unionists into “talks about talks,” but it wasn’t until 2000 that the DUP even pretended to participate in Stormont. So don’t hold your breath about an executive being established. The DUP policy is barking – in more senses than one – “Stop the world, we want to get off.”

Offering no solution, as unionists never do (and let’s remember our proconsul helpfully told us last week, the DUP don’t know what they want except to turn the clock back), makes it easy for both governments to ignore the DUP.

Other matters are more pressing for the British like four pending by-elections, two on July 20, rising mortgage rates, and a general election next year. As for the Irish government, their priority is to choose how to spend their immense budget surpluses dispensing goodies to voters in such as way as to ensure they keep Sinn Féin out of government in the general election, also like the British next year.

Nevertheless, the caravan doesn’t stop. What the DUP are doing is proving that they won’t let the north work except on their own terms, an extremely hazardous tactic as they diminish electorally on each outing.

They have no purchase on the current fag-end Conservative government and will have none on an odds-on Labor government. The world will move on again without the DUP.