Posted By: July 30, 2014

 Have they[DUP] worked out that in a decade unionists will be in a minority in all but two and a half of the six counties and in both Belfast and Derry?”

Brian Feeney. Wednesday, July 30, 2014

DID you ever wonder what the DUP want? Not unionists in general. There’s no evidence for what they want since most don’t vote DUP and a substantial number don’t vote at all. No, you’ve got to deal with the DUP since they’re the largest unionist party and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.So what do they want? Leave aside stuff like flags and marching past Ardoyne. The Greeks had a word for that sort of thing: ‘adiaphora’ – indifferent things – not essential to law or morals. Fundamentally they’re not important enough to waste time thinking about. Either way they wouldn’t change the basics. The DUP can’t see the wood for the trees. Instead of presenting a policy on major matters they focus on inessentials. They raised the matter of parades at the Hillsborough talks in 2010 even though the talks were about devolving policing and justice. After December 2012 they added flags. Yet even if both parades and flags were resolved that still wouldn’t answer the question, what do the DUP want? It seems they don’t want to deal with Sinn Fein. They ignore Sinn Fein MLAs in corridors and in daily discourse in Stormont. They won’t pass the time of day. Every DUP speech contains an attack on Sinn Fein, either on a personality or on the party. So we know they don’t want Sinn Fein as partners in the north’s administration. In reality the DUP is refusing to operate the partnership arrangement at Stormont. We know they opposed the Good Friday Agreement. We know the St Andrews Agreement was a fig leaf crafted by the British and Irish governments to enable Ian Paisley to jemmy his party back into the north’s politics even though a substantial number of senior party members opposed it. The men, known as the ‘dirty dozen’, signed a letter of objection but hadn’t the guts to stand up to Paisley or resign. They’re still there and they haven’t changed their attitude.

Still, all that only gets us a lengthening list of what the DUP don’t want. What do they aim for? What are their answers to the big questions? What are they going to do about demographic change, the rapid growth of a nationalist population whose elected representatives the DUP despise and will not deal with? Have they worked out that in a decade unionists will be in a minority in all but two and a half of the six counties and in both Belfast and Derry? What will be their political response to that as opposed to avoiding the issue by prancing around waving flags? Understandably perhaps, though stupidly, the DUP deliberately ignore events south of the border. There Sinn Fein has become a major player and looks likely to win between a fifth and a quarter of the seats in the Dail in 2016. For at least a generation the north has been carefully avoided as a political issue in the south, certainly as a party political issue. Not after 2016. How will the DUP respond?Sinn Fein has allocated responsibility to various individuals to try to reach out to unionists and develop reconciliation. No response from the DUP. For their part the DUP spew out hatred and bile against Sinn Fein. Why? What is there for the DUP to gain politically by this? They don’t take a single vote from Sinn Fein. They don’t win a single Catholic vote for unionism. Sinn Fein continues to grow across the island. If the DUP refuse to deal with them, does that mean they want to unpick the Good Friday Agreement as they have been trying to do with their nauseating hypocrisy about on-the-runs? If they do manage to unpick the Agreement with the help of useful idiots among Conservative MPs, what then? The DUP has Stormont which Sinn Fein didn’t want. Yet the DUP refuse to work Stormont, even down to its committees where they support the likes of Nelson McCausland in the face of all the evidence of his unsuitability to be a minister. Why? Unfortunately the answer to the question seems all too clear. The DUP do not know what they want. It’s not simply absence of vision. It’s poverty of ideas and ideals. That’s why their vote is falling.