Is this what all the DUP sound and fury has amounted to?

Posted By: January 20, 2024



Distributed to Congress by Irish National Caucus

“The Irish News of Belfast says it all …the DUP has made things look bleak in Northern Ireland if the DUP will not go back into Stormont … And everyone knows why—the DUP does not want to serve under a Catholic First Minister, especially a female one!”—Fr. Sean McManus.

Is this what all the DUP sound and fury has amounted to?

Irish News Editorial. Belfast. Saturday, January 20, 2024.

AS THE life continues to be steadily squeezed out of Stormont by the dead hand of the DUP boycott, it has been left to frustrated and angry public sector workers to inject some much-needed energy and focus into our politics.

Their united front contrasts with a fractured DUP frozen by indecision about a return to power-sharing. The internal dynamics of the DUP may be very important to the DUP, but the rest of us are entirely fed up by a self-centered saga that has piled pressure on our public services.

Fleeing Stormont in February 2022 amid a flurry of ultimatums to the British government and EU over the NI Protocol always looked like a triumph of unionist entitlement over political realities.

And so it has proved. For all the bluster, it appears that almost two years of intransigence has achieved little more than some cosmetic tinkering to the Windsor Framework. Is this what all the sound and fury has amounted to?

The DUP has become so lost in its own labyrinth of red lines, five-point plans, and seven arbitrary tests that it gives the impression of no longer remembering where it started, let alone where it wants to go.

Yet Stormont has always been the DUP’s only logical destination – not least because it is increasingly isolated at Westminster, where its MPs’ contribution to improving our lives this week included supporting fringe figure Andrew Bridgen as he peddled unscientific views about Covid vaccinations.

Meanwhile, thousands of their constituents were striking for fair wages. Chris Heaton-Harris, the secretary of state, has thus far been the lightning rod for workers’ anger. But it is not difficult to imagine how discontent could become more firmly focused on the DUP if it continues to block devolution.

The DUP’s waffle about the protocol is in stark contrast to the clarity and simplicity of the workers’ message: they want better pay, and they want it now.

Wednesday’s recall of the assembly demonstrated both the haplessness and hopelessness of the DUP’s approach. That meeting fizzled out in a cloud of pessimism and a worrying but growing sense that it may not return.

Perhaps that air of gloomy finality has helped Sir Jeffrey Donaldson find the nerve to face down unionism’s coalition of cranks and start a process that could see an executive formed within days. But if he can’t do that, then the future looks bleak.