DUP duplicity at core of political meltdown

Posted By: September 06, 2017

Brian Feeney. Irish News. Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Let’s get back to basics. First, the Renewable Heat Incentive fiasco was the occasion but not the cause of the collapse of Stormont’s structures.

Arlene Foster’s overweening arrogance, her hubris, the DUP’s manipulation of procedures to allow Foster to put her case to the Assembly causing all other parties walking out, Givan’s disgraceful provocative tweet cancelling a paltry grant for kids to go to the Gaeltacht, all came together to put the kibosh on the executive at Christmas. It couldn’t go on like that. The DUP had to be brought under control.

Secondly,  all that finally woke Sinn Féin up to the fact they’d been led by the nose for 10 years. They went into an Executive in 2007 on DUP promises none of which materialized. In case you’ve forgotten, Sinn Féin paralyzed the Executive in 2009 when the DUP refused to agree, as they’d promised, to devolve policing and justice. Only the intervention of Brian Cowen and Gordon Brown in early 2010 compelled the DUP to give in, though not without inducing a late night spasm of turmoil in the party.

You then need to add all the other items the DUP reneged on after agreeing, not least of them being the Long Kesh site, now a wilderness thanks to Robinson bottling [backing down] when party backwoodsmen confronted him.

So the basic point is that Sinn Féin wants the DUP to agree a timetable to implement what they’ve already agreed. That’s why Foster’s proposal last Thursday was old hat. Sinn Féin has already been fooled into entering an Executive with the DUP with the promise, “Live oul horse and you’ll get grass.” Talk about ‘time-limited negotiations’ is just hot air from the DUP. We’ve been there before. That’s why Sinn Féinwantst delivery from the DUP failing which no executive.

At present all the emphasis is on Acht na Gaelige with spurious distractions about how much it would cost, how many people speak Irish, how many Sinn Féin MLAs speak Irish, how many angels can do Irish jigs on the head of a pin. None of that matters one iota (that’s Greek) because agreeing Acht na Gaelige is symbolic of a change of heart, attitude, whatever you want to call it, on the part of the DUP. No Unionist has ever been able to explain why there is an Achd na Gàidhlig (Alba) 2005 and a Welsh Language Act 1993 but no corresponding provision here, though they all know the real reason and it’s nothing to do with money.

None of the matters the DUP already signed up to in any way endanger or diminish any Unionist, though they do serve to reduce the exclusive anti-Irish stamp on The North.

There’s another basic that people need to be reminded about and that’s the return to the scene – though how can you tell? – of Mr Personality, our British proconsul [Secretary of State] for the time being. Does he seriously propose to chair more talks when he is a member of a government which is propped up by one of the teams at the talks? Really? It’s as if the referee of Monday night’s match was wearing a Northern Ireland jersey. No, in fact it’s as if the referee played in goals alongside the Northern Ireleand keeper.

The fact, the indisputable fact, is that our proconsul is a player. Not only is he never ever going to put pressure on the DUP but he has his own fish to fry on legacy matters on which he is in complete agreement with the DUP and the more excitable British tabloids. Remember his deplorable role in February lending credence to claims that there is a ‘witch hunt’ against former members of the security forces? And he has the cheek to assert he can act as chair? So this particular basic for which the proconsul is solely to blame guarantees no progress whatsoever.

If there is to be any progress the Irish government must inject some initiative. It’s best to draw a veil over their inactivity and stupid hostility towards Sinn Féin during the last six years.

Coveney is new on the scene but with Brexit looming this is his chance to make a mark.