Jeffrey Donaldson needs to emulate Peter Robinson, not Jim Molyneaux

Posted By: October 23, 2023



Distributed to Congress by Irish National Caucus


“This article in today’s Irish News of Belfast will give members of Congress further understanding of the negativity of the DUP and its refusal to go back into government with Sinn Fein … However, it must also be added that just like White Supremacists in USA do not want to share power with Blacks, extreme Protestants in Northern Ireland do not want to share government with Catholics.” —Fr. Sean McManus

Jeffrey Donaldson needs to emulate Peter Robinson, not Jim Molyneaux


Tom Kelly. Irish News. Belfast. Monday, October 23, 2023


ON BBC’s Question Time last Thursday, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Chris-Heaton Harris, said he “enjoyed” his meetings over the past number of months with Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and his DUP colleagues.


Remarkably he spoke with a straight face. Despite his optimistic words about nearing a deal with the DUP, Heaton-Harris knows that any solution available to the government can only be described as a legislative hug.


DUP and east-west council

At Westminster, there was loose talk about the creation of a new east-west council. If that’s what it takes then so be it, but let’s be frank: there are already east-west structures which includes the British-Irish Council, the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference, and the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly. These arrangements demonstrate the multi-layered relationships between the UK and Ireland, including the devolved administration in Northern Ireland.


An additional layer such as a new east-west council is little more than piping on an already well-iced cake.


Bizarrely, the DUP is looking for decorative trimmings to get over the idiotic and unachievable seven tests it set for a return to Stormont.


In reality, the DUP did win substantial changes to the NI Protocol through the Windsor Framework but it was unwilling or incapable of selling or taking ownership of those victories. This is a fundamental weakness in its strategy because the Tory government cupboard is now bare. There’s nothing left to give.


Tories under pressure

Sunak is in office but not in power. Tories are plummeting in the polls. Sitting Conservative MPs are exiting parliament in their droves ahead of the general election. Much like rats leaving a sinking ship, these MPs know the game is up. The prime minister and his government colleagues have bigger fish to fry than loyalist sardines.


As usual, The Nolan Show tries to force the details of whatever negotiations between the DUP and the government into the open bear pit of talk radio. That’s not how deals are done.


Platforming minority parties and unelected fringe loyalists are sometimes entertaining but adds nothing substantive in terms of education or information to a polarized audience.


Donaldson and colleagues, like Emma Little-Pengelly and Gavin Robinson, must be given the space to create/carve out a deal or set of circumstances that allows them to throw off their self-imposed yoke.


DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson along with party colleagues Gavin Robinson and Emma Little Pengelly outside Stormont Castle


The outcome will be judged by the electorate – not by chat show presenters or by those making unsubstantiated comments about the extent of loyalist unease. There’s no public appetite for any permanent collapse of the democratic power-sharing institutions in Northern Ireland. Even those opposed to power-sharing acknowledge this.


Sinn Féin wasted away three years before returning to the power-sharing administration, so some sauce for the Sinn Féin goose equally applies to the DUP gander.


Donaldson needs to see off DUP refuseniks

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson is no fool and in his long career, he has managed to survive whilst swimming in a tank of piranhas. Any time he shows signs of movement, he’s only too aware that hovering behind is a DUP version of Brutus, Cassius, and Albinus. He has to jettison these refuseniks.


The language of articulate Alliance politicians like Sorcha Eastwood appears, at times, intemperate (though not without some justification) but any shrill tones should be taken with a pinch of salt as it’s likely Alliance will be a very willing (and comfortable) partner in any Sinn Féin/DUP-led administration.


This week sees the arrival of a US business delegation led by the president’s economic envoy, Joseph Kennedy III. Some of the businesses appear recycled from previous visits by other envoys but the goodwill from the US administration is not something to be taken for granted.


The absence of a functioning executive makes Northern Ireland look foolish in the eyes of an international audience. The head of the civil service is a poor substitute for the powerful imagery of representatives drawn from the two main traditions working together in a joint Executive Office.