Donaldson speech ‘”Full of sound and fury signifying nothing”

Posted By: September 10, 2021

Brian Feeney. Irish News. Belfast, September10, 2021.

“I shall do such things – what they are, yet I know not: but they shall be the terrors of the earth.”

King Lear, slung out by his daughters, trying to recover a bit of authority he hasn’t got, powerless, no idea what to do and probably never had.

Yesterday was a pitiful performance from Donaldson, minus any drama or rhetorical flourish which he’s incapable of deploying. Anyway, his thin voice doesn’t lend itself to that.

It’s familiar territory for unionism, a rant, saying no to everything, threats, walkouts, boycotts, never presenting a constructive proposal about anything.

If the protocol isn’t ditched, if legal action doesn’t work, if, if, if…none of it alters the fundamental reality that we are where we are because Donaldson and his party insisted on a hard Brexit.

They blocked every move to prevent one because of their great forlorn hope that leaving the single market would mean a hard British border in Ireland. As Maros Sefcovic said yesterday, the problem isn’t the protocol, it’s the form of Brexit the DUP insisted on.

No one yesterday asked Donaldson since there has to be a trade border between the UK and the EU single market, where does he propose that border should be?

Instead, Donaldson treated his listeners to a string of empty threats, misleading and false assertions and non sequiturs.

First, the protocol doesn’t damage the Good Friday Agreement; it protects it. It doesn’t damage the east-west strand which has nothing to do with trade. Any damage to the east-west strand, exemplified by the British-Irish Inter-Governmental Conference, which unionists have no part in, was caused by Brexit.

Secondly, there is no connection between the protocol and the North-South Ministerial Council which unionists have always hated. Third, telling his ministers to boycott the NSMC which they’ve done in the past, places them in breach of the ministerial code.

Fourth, an election isn’t in his gift. There won’t be one in the autumn for two very good reasons. It’s in the gift of our silent, clueless proconsul.


You may remember Peter Robinson unsuccessfully took a previous proconsul to court for not calling an election after a lengthy delay. Then there was the gap between 2017 and 2020. Those gaps were for the second reason. What would an autumn election be to? The protocol, an international agreement over which a regional assembly has no say, will still be there, so in his own terms Donaldson can’t go back into an executive.

His bluster yesterday exposed his weakness and desperation, lack of strategic thought or political nous.

All the other assembly parties who piled in on him for his irresponsible behaviour during this pandemic were correct that yesterday was a stunt to respond to the collapse of DUP support as evidenced repeatedly in opinion polls this year.

Quite simply he’s trying to out-TUV the TUV. It’s a classic political mistake for it only results in more people voting for the real thing since Donaldson endorses Allister’s policy and will drive more unionists to the UUP.

It will all end in tears. If he pulls down the assembly the DUP will be slaughtered when an election happens. Remember, just like the pathetic demented Lear, Donaldson hasn’t taken a single concrete action. To return to Shakespeare, his speech was “full of sound and fury signifying nothing.”